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Meeting At the Merry Fifer

Meeting At the Merry Fifer

A novel by

The story, which seems really to be an incident within a larger framework, is like a side trip down a back alley of mid-nineteenth century middle-western social history. Hugh Perrine was fifteen years old, completely alone and on his own, heading by foot across Indiana to find work in Cincinnati. Joe Caffery, a boy of the same age escaping from his indentures, got Hugh out of an argument in the Merry Fifer Inn; Hugh helped his new friend gain time by letting a search party think he was Joe. But Joe's master, a traveling peddler, didn't hesitate at the substitution and refused to let Hugh go. The boy was traded to a hate-crazed old man who displayed mechanical figures and who followed in infuriated pursuit when Hugh escaped. Character motivations are generally left unexplained and are unpredictable. Particularly difficult to understand is Hugh's adulation of an incidental man who eventually effects his release and provides a haven for him. The descriptions of the traveling peddlers and showmen, their dingy lives, skill at small-time cheating, and entertainments come across well. - Kirkus

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