Mr. Gimp Attends the Horse Show
by Ellis Parker Butler
As it was an afternoon session of the horse show, Mr. Gimp wore his frock coat and silk hat and a new lavender tie he had purchased for the occasion. As he took his seat -- second tier back of the boxes -- he glanced hastily around, and seeing several men wearing their hats, he blushed and put his hat on again. The next moment he saw a well-dressed man enter one of the boxes and remove his hat, and Mr. Gimp hastily removed his own. He was straining his neck to see whether many other men had removed their hats when Mrs. Gimp spoke.
"My dear," she exclaimed enthusiastically, "will you just look at that gown entering that box! The third box to the right. What a dream! And, oh! that hat! There -- on the woman in lavender!"
"I don't see it, ma," said Sammy Gimp. "Where is it? What's lavender?"
Mr. Gimp, having observed that the well-dressed man in the box was the only man not wearing his hat, hastily replaced his own hat. He did not wear his silk hat often, and it needed ironing. The last time he had worn it had been in a rain shower, and each drop of rain had left its mark. Before leaving home Mr. Gimp had brushed the hat vigorously with the hairbrush, but the rough spots would not become smooth. The hat did not fit his head very well, anyway, especially since he had had his haircut, and as the spectators walked past in the promenade before the boxes below him and looked up, Mr. Gimp had an awful feeling that every bit of nap on his hat was standing on end, and that the hat itself was so far down on his head that it must look like an extinguisher. He wished, with all his heart, he had not come, and that, now that he had come, he could put his hat between his feet.
"And, oh, just see that wrap! And those jewels!" exclaimed Mrs. Gimp.
Mr. Gimp wiped his face, which was perspiring freely, and felt cautiously to see whether his tie was climbing the back of his collar. It was.
"Now, my dear," he said, "please don't begin that!"
"Begin what, sweetheart?" asked Mrs. Gimp innocently.
"You know very well what I mean," said Mr. Gimp. "I mean clothes. Don't you know what people come to the horse show for? Do you suppose I brought you here to look at clothes? This is a horse show, not a clothes show."
"Well, the clothes are here," said Mrs. Gimp, "and there are no horses in the ring yet. I might as well look at the clothes."
"Oh, yes!" said Mr. Gimp. "Look at the clothes! Talk about the clothes! Don't you know that you are making a joke of yourself? Don't you know that is why the funny papers poke fun at the horse show? Look at the clothes, if you insist, but don't tell every one you don't know a horse from a cow."
"I said nothing about horses," said Mrs. Gimp, offended; "or cows, either."
"Are they going to have cows, pa?" asked Sammy.
"No, they're not!" snapped Mr. Gimp. "And if your mother cared anything about horses, if she knew horses as I do, and loved horses -- You watch the horses, Samuel, and let your mother look at the clothes. I brought you here to learn something about man's noblest dumb companion. Now!"
The doors at the far end of the Garden swung open and in came the horses. Mr. Gimp, first looking to see whether the men around him wore their frock coats buttoned or unbuttoned, and hastily buttoning his, looked at his program.
"Cobs," he said, reading the program. "Judging cobs. Now, observe, Sammy, that those are cobs, as they are called. And a remarkably fine lot of cobs, too."
"But, pa" -- Sammy began, after looking at the horses and then at the program his father had bought him.
"Don't talk; look," said Mr. Gimp. "I want you to know, after you leave here, just what a cob is. See how tall and rangy they are. Clothes! Why, half the people here don't care a cent for the horses! They don't so much as know a cob when they see one" --
"But, pa" -- said Sammy.
"Clothes is what they come for, like your mother -- to see clothes and to have their clothes seen. Ah! The white cob gets the blue ribbon! Just as I thought. A very fine cob, that! What's next? Polo ponies."
"But, pa" -- said Sammy, as half a dozen lank, lean horses ran into the ring, each bearing a rider.
"The most knowing ponies in the world," said Mr. Gimp. "Remember that, Sammy. Study the polo ponies. Your mother is too busy looking at clothes, but I want you to know as much about horses as your father does. Fine polo ponies those are, too. Just such animals as I would choose myself. Tall and thin, good gait. See that one jump! That was a jump for you!"
"But, pa" -- said Sammy.
Mr. Gimp was studying his program.
"The next will be draught horses," he said; and when the polo ponies had finished their remarkable jumping feats and had been awarded their ribbons, six small ponies entered the ring, each ridden by a small boy or girl. Mr. Gimp looked at the program hastily and cleared his throat.
"Sammy," he said, "I want you to look at these draught horses well. See the strength in their small limbs. No waste flesh there! Strength! And kindness! Even a child can ride them, strong as they are. Why? Because a draught horse must not be wild and headstrong, like the polo ponies" --
"But, pa " -- said Sammy.
"Oh!" cried Mrs. Gimp. "There is Mrs. Van Astorgilt! In the green hobble" --
"My dear," said Mr. Gimp disgustedly, "did you come here to look at a dressmaker's output or at the horses? Look at those magnificent draught animals" --
"But, pa," said Sammy, "this program I've got is all wrong. It says those are children's ponies."
"Let me see that program!" snapped Mr. Gimp. He took it and looked at it, and then looked at his own. Sure enough the boy was right.
"Ah -- ponies -- children's ponies," he said very meekly. "I -- I had the wrong day's program. Very peculiar mistake! I thought those were children's ponies -- I did, indeed."
"And those were not polo ponies," said Mrs. Gimp. "They were hunters. So this program says, dear."
"Humph!" said Mr. Gimp. "No wonder -- no wonder a man gets all mixed up, when he hears nothing but clothes, clothes, clothes! Come on!"
"Where are we going, pa?" asked Sammy anxiously.
"We're going to a moving picture show," said Mr. Gimp. "I'm going to take your mother to see something she can understand. She don't care for horses."