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Brave Tom The Battle That Won   By: (1840-1916)

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[Illustration: "Pull up; I'm all right."]

Brave and Honest Series. No. 1

Brave Tom


The Battle That Won


Edward S. Ellis

Author of "River And Wilderness" Series, "Log Cabin" Series, "Honest Ned," "Righting The Wrong," Etc.



Chapter I.

On a certain summer day, a few years ago, the little village of Briggsville, in Pennsylvania, was thrown into a state of excitement, the like of which was never known since the fearful night, a hundred years before, when a band of red men descended like a cyclone upon the little hamlet with its block house, and left barely a dozen settlers alive to tell the story of the visitation to their descendants.

Tom Gordon lived a mile from Briggsville with his widowed mother and his Aunt Cynthia, a sister to his father, who had died five years before.

The boy had no brother or sister; and as he was bright, truthful, good tempered, quick of perception, and obedient, it can be well understood that he was the pride and hope of his mother and aunt, whose circumstances were of the humblest nature. He attended the village school, where he was the most popular and promising of the threescore pupils under the care of the crabbed Mr. Jenkins. He was as active of body as mind, and took the lead among boys of his own age in athletic sports and feats of dexterity.

One summer day the village of Briggsville blazed out in black and red and white, every available space being covered with immense posters, which in flaming scenes and gigantic type announced the coming of "Jones's & Co.'s Great Moral Menagerie and Transcontinental Circus, on its triumphal tour through the United States and Canada."

Naturally a tremendous excitement set in among the boys, who began hoarding their pennies and behaving with supernatural propriety, so that nothing should interfere with the treat, which in exquisite enjoyment can never be equaled by anything that could come to them in after life.

Tom Gordon had never yet seen the inside of a circus and menagerie; and as his mother promised him that the enjoyment should be his, it is impossible to describe his state of mind for the days and nights preceding the visit of the grand aggregation, the like of which (according to the overwhelming posters) the world had never known before. He studied the enormous pictures, with their tigers, bears, leopards, and panthers, the size of a meeting house; their elephants of mountainous proportions, and the daring acrobats, contortionists, and performers, whose feats made one hold one's breath while gazing in awe at their impossible performances. The lad dreamed of them at night, talked about them through the day, and discussed with his most intimate friends the project of forming a circus of their own when they became bigger and older. The latter project, it may be added, owing to unforeseen obstacles, never assumed definite form.

But alas! this is a world of disappointment. On the morning of the circus Tom was seized with a violent chill, which almost shook him out of his shoes. He tried with might and main to master it; for he well knew that if he did not, his visit to the wonderful show must be postponed indefinitely. He strove like a hero, and was actually sick several hours before the watchful eyes of his mother and aunt discovered his plight. The moment came when he could hold out no longer, with his teeth rattling like castanets, and his red face so hot that it was painful to the touch. Since the performance did not open until two o'clock in the afternoon, he did not as yet abandon all hope.

His mother and aunt sympathized with him; but although he rallied to a great extent from his illness, they could not give consent for him to leave the house. He partook of refreshment, and left his bed at noon. At two o'clock he was able to sit in the chair by the window, with his fever greatly abated, and an hour later he was as free from all traces of the ague as you or I... Continue reading book >>

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