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Source: Around the “Pan” with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition
Source type: book
Document type: fiction
Document title: “[The Lion of the Day]”
Author(s): Fleming, Thomas
Publisher: Nut Shell Publishing Co.
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1901
Pagination: 141-47

Fleming, Thomas. “[The Lion of the Day].” Around the “Pan” with Uncle Hank: His Trip Through the Pan-American Exposition. New York: Nut Shell Publishing, 1901: pp. 141-47.
excerpt of book
McKinley assassination (fictionalization); William McKinley (death).
Named persons
William Jennings Bryan; Edward Bulwer-Lytton; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; William Shakespeare; Uncle Hank.
This book, 262 pages in total, has neither chapters nor separate sections, titled or otherwise. Most pages of text do, however, include a top-outer-corner header note summarizing the page’s subject matter in a succinct phrase. Accordingly, the excerpt below is being assigned the header note from page 141 (“The Lion of the Day”) as an ad hoc title. Other header notes from this portion of the book read as follows: “The Assassination of the President” (p. 143), “The Anarchist’s Work” (p. 145), and “Anxious Days” (p. 146).

No text appears on pages 142 and 144.

Captioned drawings appear in this portion of the book as follows:  “By Crackee, What a Lesson Them Camels Teach Human Bein’s. They Kin Go Seven Days Without a Drink.” (p. 140); “Mr. Preserdent, Yer th’ Most Democratic Preserdent We’ve Had Sence Linken.” (p. 142); “The Anarchist’s Prompter.” (p. 144). Small, unlabeled drawings of people appear in the margins of pages 141, 143, 145, and 146.

A nighttime exterior photograph of the “illuminated” Temple of Music appears as an unnumbered plate facing page 142.


[The Lion of the Day] [excerpt]

     It was on such an occasion that Uncle Hank was attracted to the animals on parade. As the camels passed he remarked:
     “By crackee, what a lesson them camels teach human bein’s. They kin go seven days without er drink.”
     “Yes,” replied a bystander, “but what satisfaction they get out of a drink when they do get one; it has such a long way to travel through their long throats that it well repays them for their long abstinence. By the way, speaking of animals, did you know there was a lion roaming about the grounds, loose?”
     “A lion?” exclaimed Uncle Hank in alarm.
     “Yes; the Lion of the day, President McKinley.”
     “Is ther President here?”
     “Yes, over on the Plaza.”
     “Wall, I won’t miss Mac ef I know et!” and he strode off in the direction of the Plaza. When he arrived there he found the “Lion” in the shape of the President, who was surrounded by an enthusiastic multitude.
     Uncle Hank worked his way to the center of the group where the Chief Magistrate was holding a levee, and, with true Yankee modesty, made himself the spokesman of the occasion:
     “Mr. Preserdent, yer th’ most Democratic Preserdent we’ve had since Linken.”
     The crowd cheered the old man, and the President smiled broadly as he replied diplomatically:
     “Well, gentlemen, I thank you for your cordiality—”
     “Speech! Speech!” called out several voices in the assemblage, which had now augmented considerably, and the President was compelled to get up on the steps of the Music Stand and speak to them before they would consent to let him go.
     An American crowd always likes to be talked to. It will hover around a stump speaker or a street-corner fakir like flies around a molasses barrel. Wm. J. Bryan gathered them by thousands in his memorable campaigns, and you would naturally think that he would carry the country by storm on Elec- [141][143] tion Day, judging by the enthusiastic gatherings that greeted him, but the American citizen, while very careful in bestowing his ballot, is very lavish in his applause, as he deems some reward is due to the one who has entertained him.

“O! as a bee upon the flower, I hang
Upon the honey of thy eloquent tongue.”

     Uncle Hank saw the crowd surging into Music Temple, and, yielding to his impulse to follow, he soon found himself inside the portals of the Temple consecrated to melody which was so soon to become transformed by the discordant sounds of the assassin’s pistol. President McKinley stood right in front of the Majestic Organ, surrounded by eager citizens striving to express their love and admiration of the Chief Magistrate of the Republic through the medium of a handshake. The President stood erect, with head bare and face radiant with kindliness and good humor.
     The crowd kept passing by in rapid style, and Mr. McKinley was in high spirits.
     No one noticed in the crowd a fairly thick-set young man, with curly brownish hair, who kept moving slowly with the rest.
     He had a cap under his arm. His left hand was bound up in a white handkerchief.
     But there was nothing suspicious—nothing but the clean silk handkerchief, that looked as if the young man had hurt his hand and bound it up. Not a soul guessed that, concealed in the folds of the handkerchief was an ugly little revolver—a 32-calibre derringer, carrying five short cartridges.
     The President reached out his right hand; the man reached out quickly. The President smiled.
     For an answer the man reached his left hand around, just as a pugilist might try to give his opponent a quick jab in the [143][145] ribs. He pressed his hand against the black frock coat of the President and pulled the trigger.
     Suddenly there was a great commotion around the President, and a second later a pistol report rang out, and immediately after another. The sharp crack of the revolver echoed against the pipes of the big organ, and the fine acoustic qualities of the hall caused the shots to reverberate back and forth until it appeared as if a dozen assassins were at work.
     Like an electric flash the cry spread:
     “The President is shot!” and wild confusion reigned in the Auditorium. People rushed hither and thither; everyone seemed panic-stricken.
     Suddenly there was a deep roar: “Lynch him! Lynch the assassin!”
     Ever and again some man’s voice would cry out: “Don’t let him get away!” and there would be a score of answering shouts of “Kill him! Hang him! Take him up on the arch and burn him! Burn him at the stake!”
     During all the tumult Uncle Hank stood mutely by, awestricken at the terrible spectacle he had been an involuntary witness of.
     But he came to his senses when he heard the cry for Lynch Law.
     “Thar ye go!” he exclaimed, “show yer disrespect fer the law by breakin’ it. Thet’s what breeds Anarchists. If ye’d show the misguided lunatics the awful power ov th’ law ye’d terrorize ’em more than ye will by usin’ brute force. Show ’em th’ true majesty ov th’ law and th’ red devils’l slink inter ther holes an’ tremble with fear.”
     The entire Exposition was now in a turmoil. All was consternation. A strange atmosphere enveloped everything. On the Midway the Ballyhoos were stilled, the clowns, with serious faces, asked the barkers for additional particulars of the tragedy. Ki-ki, the imitation monkey at the “House Upside [145][146] Down,” grew serious, and his face took on a solemn aspect as he asked a hurrying guard if the President still lived.
     Within the big Exposition buildings similar scenes were enacted. Booths were hastily covered up and closed, and the exhibitors hastened to the scene of the shooting.
     The Music Temple was soon surrounded by an immense throng, and universal sympathy was expressed for the unfortunate President. There was no mistaking McKinley’s popularity. Having assumed the Presidency at a time of industrial depression, the country had progressed during his administration to most marvelous prosperity. He was identified in the public mind with contentment, happiness, pecuniary independence and remunerative employment of labor and capital, unprecedented in the history of the country. McKinley and the American home had become synonymous terms. His beautiful and chivalric devotion to his invalid wife had endeared him to every family.
     As for the assassin, the most bitter denunciation of him and of the Anarchistic fanatics who had inspired him in his atrocious deed, was heard on every side. Uncle Hank voiced the sentiment of the majority of people when he said to a bystander:
     “Them Anarchists is like rattlesnakes; fust they rattle dangerous warnin’s and then they strike a deadly blow. No civilized community ez safe while they’re about. It’s high time they waz exterminated; jes’ make it high treason when they rattle on’ about removin’ rulers; an’ let ther strong arm of ther law grasp ’em around th’ neck an’ strangle ’em tew death before they hev time tew coil an’ strike. Naow ye see th’ danger ov ’lowin’ ther scum of Europe tew cum inter th’ country. Yer quarantine yaller fever, but ye never think ov quarantinin red anarchy, which is a sight more dangerous diseese,” and Uncle Hank moved off very much depressed at the terrible scenes he had witnessed that day. [146][147]

The President is Dead.

     After a week of cheering bulletins from the sick chamber this was the message that greeted the nation on the morning of the Fourteenth of September.
     After Hope had been enthroned, and there seemed to be no possibility of a fatal termination to the cowardly assassin’s work, there came the direful message—DEAD.
     It was hard to realize.
     Its full import failed to impress all because of its awful significance.
     The President was Dead, and with his death came a fuller realization of his sterling qualities, his noble patriotism, his perfect manhood, and his inherent kindliness of heart, which had endeared him to his fellow-countrymen.
     There was no North, no South, no East, no West; and all partisanship was sunk in a common grief, and the hand of good-fellowship was extended in this hour of national calamity.
     The tears welled up in Uncle Hank’s eyes as he softly murmured the dying words of the stricken President: “It is God’s will; God’s will be done.”

                     Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his death,
To throw away the dearest thing he owned,
As ’twere a careless trifle.

     The nation deeply mourned in its great affliction, and business halted. The Exposition closed its gates for two days, and when it resumed its life again it was draped with sombre tokens of mourning but little in keeping with its gay mission.



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