The narrator in “The Seven Vagabonds” is a young man "in the spring of his life and the summer of the year" at a crossroad in three directions. He is drawn toward a caravan, a house on wheels, operated by a traveling showman and an iterant bookseller, and shortly thereafter joined by a con man, a fiddler, operators of a showbox, all of them aspects of the artist. Attracted by their gay, spontaneous way of life, and by the notion of a home on wheels, he wishes to join this carefree band. The old showman questions his fitness for the role of roving entertainer; he finds the narrator merely a "strolling gentleman" in contrast with respectable vagabonds who get their "bread in some creditable way. Every honest man should have his livelihood." On the spot, the wanderer invents the vocation of traveling storyteller in order to establish respectability with this motley crew. Only with the aid of an advocate among them is he accepted by the band headed for a camp meeting. Joyful at having joined a society of outsiders, the narrator feels at one with their world until he spies a horseman approaching from the direction of the camp meeting. A Methodist minister sitting his horse with "rigid perpendicularity, a tall thin figure in rusty black," this priestly spoilsport brings word that the camp meeting has broken up. The merry group disbands, blasted by the Methodist's grim visage.
Also of interest:
A Lodging for the Night by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe
The Seven Vagabonds by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Three Strangers by Thomas Hardy
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Easy Reading Version