The odor of trampled grass , of peanuts and popcorn; the blare of a tireless band; three rings with a bewildering array of acrobats, fat horses, ladies and gentlemen in fleshings; altogether too much for any one pair of eyes.
Then the clowns, to add to the multiplicity of dazzling diversions. They walk rapidly over the un- even ground and their pantomime antics give relief from the tension occasioned by feats of astounding skill within the ring.
And king of them all is Slivers. Every move he makes calls for a billow of laughter that rolls along the tiers of wooden seats. Hardly human is Slivers. He is, rather, a vitilized caracture; a Sunday comic supplement character, life-sized and animated; he endures blows, buffets, kicks, falls without a sound. The children, and at a circus everyone should be a child, watch him with rapture.
The entertainment he offers is the oldest form recorded; he is the rightful heir of the first mirth maker; the direct descendant of ancient jesters. Swiftly he goes through his act and passes through a canvas gateway into the unknown, leaving gasps of merriment and little sighs of regret.
Francis Oakley, who was Slivers, died in a room for which the rent was overdue, had tried to borrow a quarter, and failed. The gas was turned on and the door barricaded.
It is difficult to determine which was the real Slivers; the buffoon in the tents of glamor, utterly apart from everything solemn or sad, or the broken man, running away from life; the Slivers that lived in the laughter of children, or the wastrel who made his exit into the everlasting shadows.