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Tom Barnum Takes Smallpox. I Visit My Home. Dr. Hopkins Gets Broken Window, a Quarter, and the Ill Will of the Stage Company.

During the year of 1863 I took a notion to "lay off" and go home on a visit. Tom Barnum, one of the owners of the road, was at Santa Fe at that time and was to be one of the passengers into Kansas City. I met Mr. Barnum in the "fonda" and he told me he was sick, remarking that he wished he would take the smallpox. I told him he would not want to have it more than once. "Well," said he, "if I took the smallpox it would either cure me of this blamed consumption or kill me." I told him that he wasn't ready to "kick the bucket" yet, for the boys needed him in Kansas City.

Mr. Barnum had been exposed to the smallpox but was not aware of it, so we started to Kansas City. When we arrived in Kansas City we went to the old Gillis hotel, the headquarters for all the stage company's employees. When the doctor came he told him that he had the smallpox, but that he need call no one's attention to it until he had given him leave. The doctor fixed up a bed in the attic, tore a glass out of the window and took every precaution to keep the pestilence from spreading through the house. The doctor took Tom Barnum up in the attic, placed plenty of water within his reach and put a negro to mind him. Then the doctor went to the office and told Dr. Hopkins that Barnum had the smallpox and was up in the attic. He said to the hotelkeeper that there was no need of announcing it to the boarders, but Dr. Hopkins said he would do it anyway, and for him to get Barnum out of the house and to a hospital, that he would ruin him. That night Dr. Hopkins announced to his guests that Barnum was there with the smallpox. Sixteen of his boarders left "post haste," but the house filled up again before night in spite of the smallpox sign. At that time, in the year of 1863, the Gillis house run by Dr. Hopkins was the only large house in Kansas City in use. There was a new building, the "Bravadere," up on the hill from the levee, but it had not been furnished.

When Barnum got over the smallpox he took the bed out the window and burned it, together with everything else in the room, and thoroughly fumigated the premises.

With a face all scarred with smallpox he then went down to the office and told the proprietor of the hotel what he had done with the furniture, bedding, etc., that he had used while he was sick. He told Dr. Hopkins that he wanted to pay him for the damage and asked him what price he should pay for the furniture he had burned. Hopkins told him he supposed $50 would cover it. Then he asked him how much he had damaged his house. Hopkins again replied that he injured him about $50. "All right," said Tom Barnum, "I'll pay it, but let me ask you how many boarders left you when they heard I was sick in the attic with the smallpox." Mr. Hopkins told him they all left. "So I understand, Mr. Hopkins, but will you tell me how many came in before night--how many empty beds did you have while I lay ill with smallpox?" Hopkins was hedging, but he had to answer that all his beds were full; that he had no room for more than came, but he said he felt sure that his house had been injured at least $50. Finally Tom Barnum happened to think of the window pane he had left out of his inventory of materials destroyed and mentioned it. Greatly to Barnum's disgust Hopkins scratched his head and replied that he guessed that a quarter would cover the damage to the window.

When this conversation was over and Barnum had paid for all the "smallpox damage" he said, "Now, Hopkins, figure up what our company owes you; I want to pay it, too." "No," said Hopkins, "I haven't time now, I always make out my bills the first of the month." "Well," said Barnum, "you figure our bill up right now and do not include dinner for any of us, for we are leaving you right now, and will never bring a customer to this house again and never come here to get a passenger nor any one's baggage. In fact, our teams will never come down the hill again to this house, we're quittin'."

The smallpox had left old Barnum pretty weak physically, but had evidently not weakened his will. He left Hopkins in the office figuring up his account and he jumped a-straddle of a bare-backed mule and went up on the hill and rented the new 40-room house, "The Bravadere," and sub-rented enough rooms to pay the expenses of his company. He also got a porter, bus and team and sent to the landing to meet every steam boat to carry passengers and their baggage free of charge to his "new hotel" on the hill. This new hotel got to be all the rage, and the old levee hotel in the bottoms was doomed to be a "thing of the past." The old Gillis hotel on the levee was bought in by the Peet Soap Factory. The old "Bravadere" still stands in Kansas City, but boasts a new brick front.

[Illustration: "UNCLE" DICK WOOTEN.]