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His work was to cover the pots of paste-blacking, tie them down neatly and paste on the labels. Along with two or three others boys he worked all day long for six or seven shillings a week. Oh, how the little boy hated it! He felt degraded and ashamed.

The first was an unhappy-looking stag beetle which seemed to have been in the wars, for one of its horns was gone, while not a dozen yards farther on we came upon a dissipated cockchafer, with a dent in his horny case, and upon both of these Mercer pounced with delight, transferring them to a flat tin paste-blacking box, inside which we could hear them scratching to get out.

Barnum had formed the acquaintance of a very clever young dancer named John Diamond, and soon after leaving the paste-blacking enterprise, he gathered together a company of singers, etc., which, with the dancer, Diamond, he placed in the hands of an agent, not caring to have his name appear in the transaction. He hired the Vauxhall Garden Saloon in New York and gave a variety of performances.

Finally Barnum decided to go into business with a good-looking, plausible German, named Proler, who was a manufacturer of paste-blacking, cologne, and bear's grease. They opened a store at No. 101 1/2 Bowery, where Proler manufactured the goods, and Barnum kept accounts and attended to sales in the store.