The Circus Boys Across The Continent Or Winning New Laurels on the Tanbark
Part 4 out of 4
Phil threw himself into a succession of cartwheels along the edge
of the railroad tracks, ending in a backward somersault.
"And you ride a hoss without any saddle, standing up on his
back--you do that, too?"
"Why, yes," laughed Phil, his face red from his exertion.
"Then, come along. Come on, fellers!"
Phil thought, of course, that he was being taken to the man's
home just outside the village, where he would get his breakfast.
He was considerably surprised, therefore, when the men passed the
house that his acquaintance pointed out as belonging to himself,
and took their way on toward a collection of farm buildings some
distance further up the road.
"I wonder what they are going to do now?" marveled Phil.
"This surely doesn't look much like breakfast coming my way,
and I'm almost famished."
The leader of the party let down the bars of the farmyard,
conducting his guests around behind a large hay barn, into an
enclosed space, in the center of which stood a straw stack,
the stack and yard being surrounded by barns and sheds.
"Where are you fellows taking me? Going to put me in the stable
with the live stock?" questioned Phil, laughingly.
"You want some breakfast, eh?"
"Certainly I do, but I'm afraid I can't eat hay."
The men laughed uproariously at this bit of humor.
"Must be a clown," suggested one.
"No, I am not a clown. My little friend who performs with me,
and comes from the same town I do, is one. I wish he were here.
He would make you laugh until you couldn't stand without leaning
"Here, Joe! Here, Joe!" their guide began calling in a loud
voice, alternating with loud whistling.
Phil heard a rustling over behind the straw stack, and then out
trotted a big, black draft horse, a heavy-footed, broad-backed
Percheron, to his astonishment.
"My, that's a fine piece of horse flesh," glowed the lad.
"We have several teams of those fellows for the heavy work with
the show. Of course we don't use them in the ring. Is this what
you brought me here to see?"
"Yep. Git up there."
"What do you mean?"
"Git up and show us fellers if you're a real circus man."
"You mean you want me to ride him?" said Phil.
"Git on his back and do one of them bareback stunts you was
telling us about," and the fellow winked covertly at his
companions, as much as if to say, "we've got him going
"What; here in this rough yard?"
Phil considered for a moment, stamping about on the straw-covered
ground, then sizing up the horse critically.
"All right. Bring me a bridle and fasten a long enough rein to
the bit so I can get hold of it standing up."
He was really going to do as they demanded. The men were
They had not believed he could, and now, at any rate, he was
to make an effort to make good his boast.
A bridle was quickly fetched and slipped on the head of old Joe.
In place of reins the farmer attached a rope to the bridle,
Phil measuring on the back of the horse to show how long it
should be cut.
The preparations all complete, Phil grasped the rein and
vaulted to the high back of the animal, landing astride neatly.
This brought an exclamation of approval from the audience.
"Now git up on your feet."
"Don't be in a hurry. I want to ride him around the stack a few
times to get the hang of the ring," laughed Phil. "It's a good,
safe place to fall, anyway. Do I get some breakfast after
this exhibition?" he questioned.
"That depends. Go on."
"Gid-dap!" commanded Phil, patting the black on its powerful
Then they went trotting around the stack, the men backing off to
get a better view of the exhibition.
On the second round Phil drew up before them.
"Got any chalk on the place?" he asked.
"Reckon there's some in the barn."
"Please fetch it."
They did not know what he wanted chalk for, but the owner of
the place hurried to fetch it. In the meantime Phil was slowly
removing his shoes, which he threw to one side of the yard.
Bidding the men break up the chalk into powder, he smeared the
bottoms of his stockings with the white powder, sprinkling a
liberal supply on the back of the horse.
"Here, here! What you doing? I have to curry that critter down
every morning," shouted the owner.
Phil grinned and clucked to the horse, whose motion he had caught
in his brief ride about the stack, and once more disappeared
around the pile. When he hove in sight again, the black was
trotting briskly, with Phil Forrest standing erect, far back on
the animal's hips, urging him along with sharp little cries, and
dancing about as much at home as if he were on the solid ground.
The farmers looked on with wide-open mouths, too amazed to speak.
Phil uttered a shout, and set the black going about the
stack faster and faster, throwing himself into all manner of
After the horse had gotten a little used to the strange work,
Phil threw down the reins and rode without anything of the sort
to give him any support.
Probably few farm barnyards had ever offered an attraction like
"Come up here!" cried the lad, to the lighter of the men.
"I'll give you a lesson."
The fellow protested, but his companions grabbed him and threw
him to old Joe's back. Phil grabbed his pupil by the coat
collar, jerking him to his feet and started old Joe going at a
You should have heard those farmers howl, at the ludicrous sight
of their companion sprawling all over the back of the black, with
Phil, red-faced, struggling with all his might to keep the fellow
on, and at the same time prevent himself taking a tumble!
At last the burden was too much for Phil, and his companion took
an inglorious tumble, head first into the straw at the foot of
the stack, while the farmers threw themselves down, rolling about
and making a great din with their howls of merriment.
"There, I guess I have earned my breakfast," decided the lad,
dropping off near the spot where he had cast his shoes.
"You bet you have, little pardner. You jest come over to the
house and fill up on salt pork and sauerkraut. You kin stay all
summer if you want to. Hungry?"
"So hungry that, if my collar were loose, it would be falling
down over my feet," grinned the lad.
WHEN THE CRASH CAME
There was rejoicing on the part of his fellows, and relief in
the heart of Mr. Sparling when, along toward noon next day,
Phil Forrest came strolling on the circus lot at St. Joseph.
His friends, the farmers, had not only given him food and
lodging, but had advanced him enough money for his fare through
to join the show. His first duty was to get some money from
Mr. Sparling and send it back to his benefactors.
This done, Phil repaired to the owner's tent where he knew Mr.
Sparling was anxiously waiting to hear what had happened to him.
Phil went over the circumstances in detail, while Mr. Sparling
listened gravely at first, then with rising color as his
"It's Red Larry!" decided Mr. Sparling, with an emphasizing blow
of his fist on the desk before him.
"After I thought the matter over that was what I decided--I mean
that was the decision I came to."
"Right. Another season I'll have an officer with this show.
That's the only way we can protect ourselves."
"Do all the big shows carry an officer?" asked Phil.
"Yes; they have a detective with them--not a tin badge detective,
but a real one. Don't try to go out today. Get your dinner and
rest up for the afternoon performance. I think you had better go
to the train in my carriage tonight. I'm not going to take any
more such chances with you."
"I'll look out for myself after this, Mr. Sparling," laughed
"I think it was only two days ago that I said I wasn't afraid of
Larry--that he couldn't get me. But he did."
That afternoon, as Phil related his experiences to the dressing
tent, he included the barnyard circus, which set the performers
in a roar.
Phil felt a little sore and stiff after his knockout and his
long ride in the freight car; but, after taking half an hour of
bending exercises in the paddock, he felt himself fit to go on
with his ring and bareback acts.
Both his acts passed off successfully, as did the Grand Entry in
which he rode old Emperor.
That night, after the performance, Phil hurried to the train,
but kept a weather eye out that he might not be assaulted again.
He found himself hungry, and, repairing to the accommodation car
for a lunch, discovered Teddy stowing away food at a great rate.
"So you're here, are you?" laughed Phil.
"Yep; I live here most of the time," grinned Teddy. "They like
to have me eat here. I'm a sort of nest egg, you know. It makes
the others hungry to see me eat, and they file in in a
perfect procession. How's your head?"
"Still a size too large," answered Phil, sinking down on a stool
and ordering a sandwich.
As the lads ate and talked two or three other performers came in,
whereupon the conversation became more general.
All at once there came a bang as a switching engine bumped into
the rear of their car. Teddy about to pass a cup of steaming
coffee to his lips, spilled most of it down his neck.
"Ouch!" he yelled, springing up, dancing about the floor,
holding his clothes as far from his body as possible. "Here, you
quit that!" he yelled, poking his head out of a window. "If you
do that again I'll trim you with a pitcher of coffee and see how
you like that."
Once more the engine smashed into them, having failed to make the
coupling the first time.
Teddy sat down heavily in the middle of the car, just as Little
Dimples tripped in. In one hand he held a sandwich half
consumed, while with the other he was still stretching his collar
as far from his neck as it would go.
"Why, Teddy," exclaimed Dimples, "what are you doing on the
"Eating my lunch. Always eat it sitting on the floor, you know,"
growled the boy, at which there was a roar from the others.
"What are they trying to do out there?" questioned Phil.
"Going to shift us about on another track, I guess. I was nearly
thrown down when I tried to get on the platform. I never saw a
road where they were so rough. Did you?"
"Yes; I rode on one the other night that could beat this,"
A few minutes later the car got under motion, pushed by a
switching engine, and began banging along merrily over switches,
tearing through the yard at high speed.
"We seem to be in a hurry 'bout something," grunted Teddy.
"Maybe they've hooked us on the wrong train, and we're bound for
"No, I don't think so," replied Phil. "You should be used to
this sort of thing by this time."
"I don't care as long as the food holds out. It doesn't make any
difference where they take us."
"What section does this car go out on tonight, steward?"
"The last. Goes out with the sleepers."
"That explains it. They are shifting us around, making up the
last section and to get us out of the way of section No. 2.
I never can keep these trains straight in my mind, they change
them so frequently. But it's better than riding in a canvas
wagon over a rough country road, isn't it, Teddy?"
"Worse," grunted the lad. "You never know when you're going to
get your everlasting bump, and you don't have any net to fall in
when you do. Hey, they're at it again!"
His words were almost prophetic.
There followed a sudden jolt, a deafening crash, accompanied by
cries from the cooks and waiters at the far end of the car.
"Get a net!" howled Teddy.
"We're off the rails," cried the performers.
"Look out for yourselves!"
Little Dimples was hurled from her stool at the lunch counter,
and launched straight toward a window from which the glass was
showering into the car.
Phil made a spring, catching her in his arms. But the impact
and the jolt were too much for him. He went down in a heap,
Little Dimples falling half over him.
He made a desperate grab for her, but the woman's skirts
slipped through his hand and she plunged on toward the far end
of the car.
"Look out for the coffee boiler."
A yell from a waiter told them that the warning had come
too late. The man had gotten a large part of the contents
of the boiler over him.
But all at once those in the car began to realize that something
else was occurring. Somehow, they could feel the accommodation
car wavering as if on the brink of a precipice. Then it began to
settle slowly and the mystified performers and car hands thought
it was going to rest where it was on the ties.
Instead, the car took a sudden lurch.
"We're going over something!" cried a voice.
Phil, who had scrambled quickly to his feet, half-dazed from the
fall, stood irresolutely for a few seconds then began making his
way toward where Little Dimples had fallen.
At that moment young Forrest was hurled with great force against
the side of the car. Everything in the car seemed suddenly to
have become the center of a miniature cyclone. Dishes, cooking
utensils, tables and chairs were flying through the air, the
noise within the car accompanied by a sickening, grinding series
of crashes from without.
Groans were already distinguishable above the deafening crashes.
Those who were able to think realized that the accommodation car
was falling over an embankment of some sort.
Through accident or design, what is known as a "blind switch" had
been turned while the engine was shunting the accommodation car
about the yards. The result was that the car had left the rails,
bumped along on the ties for a distance, then had toppled over an
embankment that was some twenty feet high.
It seemed as if all in that ill-fated car must be killed or
maimed for life. A series of shrill blasts from the engine
called for help.
The crash had been heard all over the railroad yards.
Railroad men and circus men had rushed toward the spot where
the accommodation car had gone over the embankment, Mr. Sparling
among the number. He had just arrived at the yards when the
Fortunately, the wrecking crew was ready for instant service,
and these men were rushed without an instant's delay to the
outskirts of the yard where the wreck had occurred.
However, ere the men got there a startling cry rose from hundreds
"Fire! The car is on fire!"
"Break in the doors! Smash the sides in!"
Yet no one seemed to have the presence of mind to do anything.
Phil had been hurled through a broken widow, landing halfway down
the bank, on the uphill side of the car, else he must have been
crushed to death. But so thoroughly dazed was he that he was
unable to move.
Finally someone discovered him and picked him up.
"Here's one of them," announced a bystander. "It's a kid, too."
Mr. Sparling came charging down the bank.
"Who is it? Where is he?" he bellowed.
"It's Phil Forrest," cried one of the showmen, recognizing the
lad, whose face was streaked where it had been cut by the jagged
glass in the broken window.
"Is he killed?"
"No; he's alive. He's coming around now."
Phil sat up and rubbed his eyes.
All at once he understood what had happened. He staggered to his
feet holding to a man standing beside him.
"Why don't you do something?" cried Phil. "Don't you know there
are people in that car?"
"It's burning up. Nobody dares get in till the wreckers can get
here and smash in the side of the car," was the answer.
"What?" fairly screamed Phil Forrest. "Nobody dares go in
that car? Somebody does dare!"
"Come back, come back, Phil! You can't do anything," shouted a
But the lad did not even hear him. He was leaping, falling
and rolling down the bank, regardless of the danger that he was
approaching, for the flames already showed through a broken spot
in the roof of the car, which was lying half on its side at the
foot of the embankment.
Without an instant's hesitation Phil, as he came up alongside,
raised a foot, smashing out the remaining pieces of glass in
a window. Then he plunged in head first.
The spectators groaned.
"Dimples! Dimples!" he shouted. "Are you alive?"
"Yes, here. Be quick! I'm pinned down!"
Phil rushed to her assistance. Her legs were pinioned beneath
a heavy timber. Phil attacked it desperately, tugging and
grunting, the perspiration rolling down his face, for the heat
in there was now almost more than he could bear.
With a mighty effort he wrenched the timber from the prostrate
woman, then quickly gathered her up in his arms.
"I knew you'd come, Phil, if you were alive," she breathed,
her head resting on his shoulder.
"Do you know where Teddy is?" he asked, plunging through the
blinding smoke to the window where voices already were calling
"At the other end--I think," she choked.
The lad passed her out to waiting arms.
"Come out! Come out of that!" bellowed the stentorian voice of
Mr. Sparling. But Phil had turned back.
"Teddy!" he called, the words choked back into his throat by the
"Wow! Get me out of here. I'm--I'm," then the lad went off into
a violent fit of coughing.
By this time two others, braver than the rest, had climbed in
through the window.
"Where are they all?" called a voice.
"I don't know. You'll have to hunt for them. I'm after you,
Are you held down by something, too?"
"The whole car's on me, and I'm burning up."
Phil, guided by the boy's voice, groped his way along and soon
found his hands gripped by those of his little companion.
"Where are you fast?"
It proved an easy matter to liberate Teddy and drag him to the
window, where Phil dumped him out.
Mr. Sparling had climbed in by this time, and the wrecking crew
were thundering at the roof to let the smoke and flames out,
while others had crawled in with their fire extinguishers.
There were now quite a number of brave men in the car all working
with desperate haste to rescue the imprisoned circus people.
"All out!" bellowed the foreman of the wrecking crew. "The roof
will be down in a minute!"
"All out!" roared Mr. Sparling, himself making a dash for
Others piled out with a rush, the flames gaining very rapid
"Phil! Phil! Where's Forrest?" called Mr. Sparling.
"He isn't here. Maybe--"
"Then he's in that car. He'll be burned alive! No one can live
five minutes in there now!"
The fire department had arrived on the scene, and the men were
running two lines of hose over the tracks.
"Phil in there?"
It was a howl--a startled howl rather than a spoken question.
The voice belonged to Teddy Tucker.
Teddy rushed through the crowd, pushing obstructors aside,
and hurled himself through the window into the burning car.
He looked more like a big, round ball than anything else.
No sooner had Tucker landed fairly inside than he uttered a yell.
There was no answer.
Teddy went down like a flash, bowled over by a heavy stream of
water from the firemen's hose.
As it chanced he fell prone across a heap of some sort,
choking and growling with rage at what had befallen him.
"Yes," answered a voice from the heap.
"I've got him!" howled Teddy, springing up and dragging the
half-dazed Phil Forrest to the window. There both boys were
hauled out, Teddy and Phil collapsing on the embankment from
the smoke that they had inhaled.
"Phil! Teddy!" begged Mr. Sparling, throwing himself
"Get a net!" muttered Teddy, then swooned.
WHAT HAPPENED TO A PACEMAKER
"Find out how that car came to tumble off," were the first words
Phil uttered after they had restored him to consciousness.
Teddy, however, was bemoaning the loss of the sandwich that he
had bought but had not eaten.
"The accident shall be investigated by me personally before
this section leaves the yard," said Mr. Sparling. "I am glad
you suggested it, Phil. How do you feel?"
"I am all right. Did somebody pull me out?"
"Yes, Teddy did. You are a pair of brave boys. I guess this
outfit knows now the stuff you two are made of, if it never did
before," glowed Mr. Sparling.
"How many were killed?"
"None. The head steward has a broken leg, one waiter a few ribs
smashed in, and another has lost a finger. I reckon the railroad
will have a nice bill of damages to pay for this night's work.
Were you in the car when it occurred?"
"Yes. They had been handling it rather roughly. We spoke of it
at the time. We were moving down the yard when suddenly one end
seemed to drop right off the track as if we had come to the end
Mr. Sparling nodded.
"I'll go into it with the railroad people at once. You two get
into your berths. Can you walk?"
"How about you, Tucker,"
"I can creep all right. I learned to do that when I was in
"I guess you mean long dresses," answered the showman.
"I guess I do."
The boys were helped to the sleeper, where they were put to bed.
Phil had been slightly burned on one hand while Teddy got what he
called "a free hair cut," meaning that his hair had been pretty
well singed. Otherwise they were none the worse for their
experiences, save for the slight cuts Phil had received by
coming in contact with broken glass and some burns from the
They were quite ready to go to sleep soon after being put to bed,
neither awakening until they reached the next show town on the
When the two lads pulled themselves up in their berths the sun
was well up, orders having been given not to disturb them.
"Almost seven o'clock, Teddy," cried Phil.
"Don't care if it's seventeen o'clock," growled Teddy.
"All right, but you will miss your breakfast."
That word "breakfast" acted almost magically on Tucker.
Instantly he landed in the middle of the aisle on all fours, and,
straightening up, began groping sleepily for his clothes.
Phil laughed and chuckled.
"How do you feel, Teddy?"
"Like a roast pig being served on a platter in the cook tent.
Do you need a net this morning?"
"No, I think not. I'm rather sore where I got cut, but I guess
I am pretty fit otherwise."
After washing and dressing the lads set out across the fields
for the lot, which they could see some distance to the west of
the sidings, where their sleepers had been shifted. Both were
hungry, for it is not an easy matter to spoil a boy's appetite.
Railroad wrecks will not do it in every case, nor did they
But, before the morning ended, the cook tent had seen more
excitement than in many days--in fact more than at any time so
far that season.
The moment Phil and Teddy strolled in, each bearing the marks of
the wreck on face and head everybody, except the Legless Man,
stood up. Three rousing cheers and a tiger for the Circus Boys,
were given with a will, and then the lads found themselves the
center of a throng of performers, roustabouts and freaks all of
whom showered their congratulations on the boys for their heroism
in saving other's lives at the risk of their own.
Little Dimples was not one whit behind the others. She praised
them both, much to Phil's discomfiture and Teddy's pleasure.
"Teddy, you are a hero after all," she beamed.
"Me? Me a hero?" he questioned, pointing to himself.
"Yes, you. I always knew you would be if you had half a chance.
Of course Phil had proved before that he was."
Teddy threw out his chest, thrusting both hands in his
"Oh, I don't know. It wasn't so much. How'd you get out?"
"Your friend, Phil, here, is responsible for my not being in the
freak class this morning. There's Mr. Sparling beckoning to you.
I think he wants you both."
The boys walked over as soon as they could get away from
the others. That morning they sat at the executive table
with the owner of the show, his wife and the members of
Mr. Sparling's staff.
For once Teddy went through a meal with great dignity,
as befitted one who was in the hero class.
"What happened to cause the wreck last night?" asked Phil,
turning to his host of the morning at the first opportunity.
"The car went off over a blind switch that had been opened."
"Ah, that's the question."
"Perhaps one of the railroad men opened it by mistake,"
suggested Teddy. "Nobody else would have a key."
"You'll find no railroad man made that blunder," replied Phil.
"No! While the railroad is responsible for the damages,
I hardly think they are for the wreck. No key was used to open
"The lock was wrenched off with an iron bar and the switch
wedged fast, so there could be no doubt about what would happen.
It might have happened to some other car not belonging to us,
though it was a pretty safe gamble that it would catch one
"I thought as much," nodded Phil. "But perhaps its just as
"What do you mean by that?" questioned the showman sharply.
"That the railroad folks will do what the police are too lazy
"Get after the fellow who did it," suggested Phil wisely.
"That's so! That's so! I hadn't thought of it in that
light before. You've got a long head, my boy. You always
have had, for that matter as long as I have known you, so it
stands to reason that you must always have been that way."
Teddy, having finished his breakfast, excused himself and
strolled off to another part of the tent where he might find
more excitement. He sat down in his own place near the freak
table and began talking shop with some of the performers, while
Phil and Mr. Sparling continued their conversation.
"I haven't given up hopes of catching him myself, Mr. Sparling."
"You came pretty close to it Saturday night."
"And I wasn't so far from it last night either," laughed the boy.
"Going to be able to save the accommodation car?"
"No, it's a hopeless wreck."
"You probably will not put on another this season then?"
"What would you suggest?"
"I should not think it would be advisable. Most of the people go
downtown, anyway, to get their lunch after the show."
"Exactly. That's the way it appeared to me, but I wanted to get
your point of view." It was not that the owner had not made up
his mind, but that he wanted to get Phil Forrest's mind working
from the point of view of the manager and owner of a circus,
seeing in Phil, as he did, the making of a future great showman.
All at once their conversation was disturbed by a great uproar at
the further end of the tent, near where Teddy sat.
Two midgets, arguing the question as to which of them was the
Smallest Man in the World, had become so heated that they fell to
pummeling each other with their tiny fists.
Instantly the tent was in confusion, and with one accord
the performers and freaks gathered around to watch the
A waiter in his excitement, stepped in a woodchuck hole, spilling
a bowl of steaming hot soup down the Fat Woman's neck.
"Help! Help! I'm on fire!" she shrieked.
Teddy, now that he had become a hero, felt called upon to hurry
to the rescue. Seizing a pitcher of ice water, he leaped over a
bench and dumped the contents of the pitcher over the head of the
Fattest Woman on Earth. Several chunks of ice, along with a
liberal quantity of the water, slid down her neck.
This was more than human flesh could stand. The Fat Woman
staggered to her feet uttering a series of screams that might
have been heard all over the lot, while those on the outside
came rushing in to assist in what they believed to be a
Mr. Sparling pushed his way through the crowd, roaring out
command after command, but somehow, the ring about the Fat Woman
and the fighting midgets did not give way readily. The show
people were too much engrossed in the funny spectacle of the
midgets to wish to be disturbed.
Not so Teddy Tucker.
Having quenched the fire that was consuming the Fat Woman,
he pushed his way through the crowd, with the stern command,
"Stand aside here!" and fell upon the Lilliputian gladiators.
"Break away!" roared Teddy, grasping each by the collar and
giving him a violent tug.
What was his surprise when both the little men suddenly turned
upon him and started pushing and beating him.
Taken unawares, Teddy began to back up, to the accompaniment of
the jeers of the spectators.
The crowd howled its appreciation of the turn affairs had taken,
Teddy steadily giving ground before the enraged Lilliputians.
As it chanced a washtub filled with pink lemonade that had been
prepared for the thirsty crowds stood directly in the lad's path.
If anyone observed it, he did not so inform Teddy.
All at once the Circus Boy sat down in the tub of pink lemonade
with a loud splash, pink fluid spurting up in a veritable
fountain over such parts of him as were not already in the tub.
Teddy howled for help, while the show people shrieked with
delight, the lad in his efforts to get out of the tub, falling
back each time, until finally rescued from his uncomfortable
position by the owner of the show himself.
"That's what you get for meddling with other peoples' affairs,"
chided Phil, laughing immoderately as he observed the rueful
countenance of his friend.
"If I hadn't meddled with you last night, you'd have been a dead
one today," retorted the lad. "Anyway, I've made a loud splash
SEARCHING THE TRAIN
Salt Lake City proved an unusual attraction to the Circus Boys,
they having read so much of it in story and textbooks.
Here they visited the great Mormon Temple. During their two day
stand they made a trip out to the Great Salt Lake where Teddy
Tucker insisted in going in swimming. His surprise was great
when he found that he could not swim at all in the thick,
The trip over the mountains, through the wonderful scenery of the
Rockies and the deep canyons where the sunlight seldom reaches
was one of unending interest to them.
Most of the show people had been over this same ground with other
circuses many times before, for there are few corners of the
civilized world that the seasoned showman has not visited at
least once in his life.
It was all new to the Circus Boys, however, and in the long day
trips over mountain and plain, they found themselves fully
occupied with the new, entrancing scenes.
By this time both lads had become really finished performers in
their various acts, and they had gone on through the greater part
of the season without serious accident in their work. Of course
they had had tumbles, as all showmen do, but somehow they managed
to come off with whole skins.
For a time after the wreck of the accommodation car the show had
no further trouble that could be laid at the door of Red Larry
or his partner. However, after a few days, the reports of
burglaries in towns where the show exhibited became even
"We can't furnish police protection to the places we visit,"
answered Mr. Sparling, when spoken to about this. "But, if ever
I get my hands on that red head, the fur will fly!"
Passing out of the state of Utah, a few stands were made in
Nevada, but the jumps were now long and it was all the circus
trains could do to get from stand to stand in time. As it was,
they were not always able to give the parade, but the manager
made up for this by getting up a free show out in front of the
big top just before the afternoon and evening performances began.
Reno was the last town played in Nevada, and everyone breathed a
sigh of relief as the tents were struck and the show moved across
the line into California. The difficulty of getting water for
man and beast had proved a most serious one. At Reno, however,
a most serious thing had occurred, one that disturbed the owner
of the show very greatly.
Many of the guy ropes holding the big top, had been cut while the
performance was going on and most of the canvasmen and laborers
were engaged in taking down and loading the menagerie outfit.
A wind storm was coming up, but fortunately it veered off before
reaching Reno. The severed ropes were not discovered until after
the show was over and the tent was being struck. Mr. Sparling
had been quickly summoned. After a careful examination of the
ropes he understood what had happened. Phil, too, had discovered
one cut rope and the others, on his way from the dressing tent to
the front, after finishing his performance.
But there was nothing now that required his looking up
Mr. Sparling, in view of the fact that the canvas was already
coming down. Yet after getting his usual night lunch in the
town, the lad strolled over to the railroad yards intending to
visit the manager as soon as the latter should have returned
from the lot.
The two met just outside the owner's private car, a short time
after the loading had been completed.
"Oh, I want to see you, Mr. Sparling, if you have the time."
"I've always time for that. I was in hopes I would get a
chance to have a chat with you before we got started. Will you
"Yes, thank you."
Entering the private car Mr. Sparling took off his coat and threw
himself into a chair in front of his roll-top desk.
"Phil, there's deviltry going on in this outfit again," he said
fixing a stern eye on the little Circus Boy.
"You don't seem to be very much surprised."
"I'm not. I think I know what you mean."
"You do? What for instance?"
"The cutting of those ropes tonight," smiled Phil.
"You know that?"
The lad nodded again, but this time with more emphasis.
"Is there anything that goes on in this outfit that you do not
"Oh, I presume so. If I hadn't chanced to walk over a place
where there should have been a guy rope I probably never should
have discovered what had been done."
"I'll bet you would," answered the owner, gazing at the
"It is fortunate for us that we did not have a wind storm during
"Fortunate for the audience, I should say. Nothing could have
held the tent with those ropes gone. It showed that the cordage
had been cut by someone very familiar with the canvas. Almost a
breath of wind would have caused the whole big top to collapse,
and then a lot of people might have been killed. Well, the
season is almost at an end now. If we are lucky we shall soon be
out of it."
"All the more reason for getting the fellow at once,"
"After a few days we shall be closing, and then we shall not get
"That's good logic. I agree with you. I shall be delighted
to place these hands of mine right on that fiend's throat.
But first, will you tell me how I am going to do it?
Haven't we been trying to catch him ever since those two
men were discharged? Both of them are in this thing."
"I think you will find that there is only one now. I believe
Larry is working alone. I haven't any particular reason for
thinking this; it just sort of seems to me to be so."
"Any suggestions, Phil? I'll confess that I am at my wits' end."
"Yes, I have been thinking of a plan lately."
"What is it?"
"Have the trains searched."
"You will remember my saying, sometime ago, that I believed the
fellow was still traveling with us and--"
"But how--where could he ride that he would not be sure
of discovery?" protested Mr. Sparling.
"He has friends with the show, that's how," answered
"You amaze me."
"All the same, I believe you will find that to be the case."
"And you would suggest searching the trains?"
"Now. No; I don't mean at this very minute. I should suggest
that tomorrow morning, say at daybreak, you send men over this
entire train. Don't let them miss a single corner where a man
"Yes; but this isn't the only train in the show."
"I know. At the first stop, or you might do it here before
we start, wire ahead to your other train managers to do the
same thing. Tell them who it is you suspect. You'll be able to
catch the squadron before they get in, though I do not believe
our man will be found anywhere on that train."
"The squadron went out before the guy ropes were cut."
"Great head! Great head, Phil Forrest," glowed the manager.
"You're a bigger man than I am any day in the week.
Then, according to your reasoning, the fellow ought either
to be on this section or the one just ahead of it?"
"Yes. But don't laugh at me if I don't happen to be right.
It's just an idea I have gotten into my head."
"I most certainly shall not laugh, my boy. I am almost
convinced that you are right. At least, the plan is well worth
carrying out. I'll give the orders to the train managers before
"I would suggest that you tell them not to give the orders to the
men until ready to begin the search in the morning."
"Good! Fine!" glowed the showman.
"I'm going to turn out and help search this section myself,"
said Phil. "You know I have some interest in it, seeing that
it is my plan," he smiled.
"Better keep out of it," advised Mr. Sparling. "You might fall
off from the cars. You are not used to walking over the tops
"Oh, yes I am. I have done it a number of times this season just
to help me to steady my nerves. I can walk a swaying box car in
a gale of wind and not get dizzy."
Mr. Sparling held up his hands protestingly.
"Don't tell me any more. I believe you. If you told me you
could run the engine I'd believe you. If there be anything you
don't know how to do, or at least know something about, I should
be glad to know what that something is."
"May I send your messages?" asked the lad. "If you will write
them now I'll take them over to the station. It must be nearly
"Yes; it is. No; I'll call one of the men."
Mr. Sparling threw up his desk and rapidly scribbled his
directions to the train managers ahead. After that he sent
forward for the manager of their particular section, to whom he
confided Phil Forrest's plan, the lad taking part in the
discussion that followed. The train manager laughed at the idea
that anyone could steal a ride on his train persistently without
Mr. Sparling very emphatically told the manager that what he
thought about it played no part in the matter at all. He was
expected to make a thorough search of the train."
"His search won't amount to anything" thought Phil shrewdly.
"I'll do the searching for this section and I'll find the fellow
if he is on board. I hope I shall. I owe Red Larry something,
and I'm anxious to pay the debt."
The train soon started, Phil bidding his employer good night,
went forward to No. 1 which was the forward sleeper on the train,
next to the box and flat cars. He peered into Teddy Tucker's
berth, finding that lad sound asleep, after which he tumbled into
his own bed.
But Phil was restless. He was so afraid that he would oversleep
that he slept very little during the night.
At the first streak of dawn he tumbled quietly from his berth,
and, putting on his clothes, stepped out to the front platform,
where he took a long breath of the fresh morning air.
The train was climbing a long grade in the Sierra Nevadas and the
car couplings were groaning under the weight put upon them.
Phil climbed to the top of the big stock car just ahead of him,
and sat down on the brake wheel.
Far ahead he saw several men going over the cars.
"They have not only begun the search but they are almost
through," muttered Phil. "As I thought, they are not half
doing it. I guess I'll take a hand."
Phil stood up, caught his balance and began walking steadily
over the top of the swaying car. At the other end of the car he
opened the trap door which was used to push hay through for the
animals, examining its interior carefully. There was no sign of
a stranger inside, nor did he expect to find any there.
"He'll be in a place less likely to be looked into," muttered the
lad starting on again and jumping down to a flat car just ahead.
"There's somebody climbing over the train," called one of the
searchers to the train manager.
All hands turned, gazing off toward Phil. He swung his hands
toward them, whereat they recognized the lad and went on about
"Wonder they saw even me!" grumbled the lad, moving slowly along.
It seemed almost impossible that one could hide on a train
like that. Here and there men were sleeping under the wagons,
and Phil made it his business to get a look into the face of
each of them. Not a man did he find who bore the slightest
resemblance to Red Larry or Bad Eye.
"It doesn't look very promising, I must say," he muttered,
jumping lightly from one flat car to another.
Phil had searched faithfully until finally he reached a "flat"
just behind that on which stood the great gilded band wagon.
Now, under its covering of heavy canvas, none of its gaudy
trimmings were to be seen.
Phil sat down on the low projection at the side of the flat car,
eyeing the band wagon suspiciously.
Somehow he could not rid himself of the impression that that
wagon would bear scrutiny.
"I'll bet they never looked into it. Last year when we were a
road show, I remember how the men used to sleep in there and how
Teddy got thrown out when he walked on somebody's face," and Phil
laughed softly at the memory. "I'm going to climb up there."
To do this was not an easy matter, for the band wagon seemed to
loom above him like a tent. The canvas stretched over it,
extending clear down to the wheels, to which it was secured
by ropes. The only way the Circus Boy could get up into the
wagon seemed to be to crawl under the canvas at the bottom and
gradually to work his way up.
"I'm going to try it," he decided all at once. "Of course
they didn't look into it. Maybe they are afraid they will
find someone. Well, here goes! If I fall off that will be the
last of me, but I am not going to fall. I ought to be able to
climb by this time if I'm ever going to."
Phil got up promptly, glanced toward the long train that was
winding its way up the steep mountain, then stepped across
the intervening space between the two cars. He wasted no time,
but immediately lifted the canvas and peered along the side of
He discovered that he would have to go to the forward end of it
in order to reach the top, because the steps were at that end.
There the canvas was drawn tighter, so the lad untied one of the
ropes, leaving one corner of the covering flapping in the breeze.
Cautiously and quietly he began climbing up, the wagon swaying
dizzily with the motion of the train, making it more and more
difficult to cling to it as he got nearer the top. The air was
close, and soon after the boy began going up, the sun beat down
on the canvas cover suffocatingly.
Now he had reached the top. High seats intervened between him
and the other end, so that he could not see far ahead of him.
Phil dropped down into the wagon and began creeping toward
He stumbled over some properties that had been stowed in the
wagon, making a great clatter. Instantly there was a commotion
in the other end of the car.
Phil scrambled up quickly and crawled over the high seat ahead
of him. As he did so he uttered an exclamation. The red head of
Red Larry could be seen, his beady eyes peering over the back of
"I've got you this time, Red!" exulted Phil, clambering over the
seat in such a hurry that he fell in a heap on the other side
The lad seemed to have no sense that he was placing himself in
grave peril. He had no fear in his makeup, and his every nerve
was centered on capturing the desperate, revengeful man who had
not only assaulted Phil, but who had caused so much damage to the
"Don't you dare come near me, you young cub!" threatened Red,
as with rage-distorted face he suddenly whipped out a knife.
Phil picked up a club and started toward him. The club happened
to be a tent stake. Red observed the action, and crouching low
waited as the lad approached him.
"I'm going to get you, Red! I'm not afraid of your knife.
You can't touch me with it because before you get the chance
I'm going to slam you over the head with this tent stake,"
grinned Phil Forrest.
Red snarled and showed his teeth.
"Oh, you needn't think you can get away. The men are hunting for
you further up the train. They'll be along here in a minute, and
then I reckon you'll be tied up and dumped into the lion cage,
though I don't think even a lion would eat such a mean hound as
Suddenly the man straightened up. Now, he held something in his
hand besides the knife. It was a stake.
Red drew back his arm, hurling the heavy stick straight at his
young adversary's head. Phil, observing the movement let
drive his own tent stake, but having to throw so hurriedly, his
aim was poor. Red Larry's aim, on the other hand was better.
Phil dodged like a flash.
Had he not done so the stake would have struck him squarely in
the face. As it was the missile grazed the side of his head,
causing the lad to fall in a heap.
Red Larry hesitated only for a second, then leaping to the high
rear seat of the wagon drew his knife along the canvas above him,
opening a great slit in it. Through the opening thus made he
peered cautiously. What he saw evidently convinced him of the
truth of what Phil had just said. Up toward the head of the
train the searchers were at work, and from what Red had heard he
realized they were looking for him.
Red did not delay a second. He scrambled out through the canvas
just as Phil pulled himself to his feet. The lad could see the
fellow's legs dangling through the canvas.
Phil uttered a yell, hurling himself wildly over the high-backed
seats in an effort to catch and hold the legs ere Red could
get out. But Larry heard him coming, and quickly clambered down
the back of the wagon to the deck of the flat car.
Phil once more grabbed up his own tent stake as he stumbled back
through the wagon.
"I've got you!" yelled the boy as he pulled himself up through
the opening, observing Red standing hesitatingly on the flat car
with a frightened look in his eyes.
"Hi! Hi!" cried Phil, turning and gesticulating wildly at the
men further up the train "I've got him! Hurry! I--"
Something sang by his head and dropped quivering in the canvas
beyond him. It was the discharged tentman's knife which he had
aimed at Phil, his aim having been destroyed by a lurch of the
car, thus saving the Circus Boy's life.
"Want to kill me, do you? I've got you now! The men are coming.
Don't you dare move or I'll drop this stake on you. I can't miss
you this time."
Red after one hesitating glance, faced the front and leaped from
the train down the long, sloping cinder-covered bank.
Phil let drive his tent stake. It caught Red on the shoulder,
bowling the rascal over like a nine pin.
Phil Forrest uttered a yell of exultation, suddenly dropping to
the floor of the car at the imminent risk of his life.
The men were now piling over the cars in his direction. He did
not know whether they had seen Red jump or not. Phil did not
waste any time in idle speculation.
"Come on!" he shouted, springing to the edge of the car,
keeping himself from falling by grasping a wheel of the wagon.
Then Phil Forrest did a daring thing. Crouching low,
choosing his time unerringly, he jumped from the train.
Fortunately for him, the cars were running slowly up the
heavy grade. But, slowly as they were going, the lad turned
several rapid handsprings after having struck the ground,
coming to a stop halfway down the slope, somewhat dazed
from the shock and sudden whirling about.
But he was on his feet in a twinkling, and running toward the
spot where Red was painfully picking himself up. Phil slipped
and stumbled as the cinders gave way beneath his feet but ran
on with a grim determination not to let his man escape him
Both were now weaponless, so far as the lad knew. Red had
possessed a revolver, but in his sudden jump from the train he
had lost it, and there was now no time to look for it.
When he saw Phil pursuing, Larry started on a run, but the lad,
much more fleet of foot, rapidly overhauled him, despite the
handicap that Phil had at the start.
"You may as well give up! I'm going to catch you, if I have to
run all the way across the Sierra Nevada Range," shouted Phil.
Red halted suddenly. Phil thought he was going to wait for him,
but the lad did not slacken his speed a bit because of that.
All at once, as Phil drew near, Red picked up a stone and hurled
it at his pursuer. Phil saw it coming in time to "duck," and it
was well he did so, for Larry's aim was good.
"He must have been a baseball pitcher at sometime," grinned
the lad. However, the fellow continued to throw until Phil saw
that he must do something to defend himself else he would surely
be hit and perhaps put out of the race altogether.
"So that's your game is it?" shouted the boy. "I can
play ball, too."
With that the lad coolly began hunting about for stones, of which
he gathered up quite an armful, choosing those that were most
nearly round. In the meantime Red had kept up his bombardment,
Phil dodging the stones skillfully. Then he too, began to throw,
gradually drawing nearer and nearer to his adversary.
A small stone caught Phil a glancing blow on the left shoulder
causing him to drop his ammunition. He could scarcely repress a
cry, for the blow hurt him terribly. He wondered if his shoulder
had not been broken, but fortunately he had received only a
It served, however, to stir Phil to renewed activity.
Grabbing all the stones he could gather in one sweep of his
hands he started on a run toward Red Larry, letting one drive
with every jump. They showered around the desperate man like a
rain of hail.
All at once Larry uttered a yell of pain and anger. One of
Phil's missiles had landed in the pit of the fellow's stomach.
Larry doubled up like a jacknife, and, dropping suddenly, rolled
rapidly toward the foot of the slope.
Phil, still clinging to his weapons, ran as fast as his slender
legs would carry him in pursuit of his man.
"I hit him! I hit him!" he yelled.
In a moment he came up with Larry, but the lad prudently stopped
a rod from his adversary to make sure that the fellow was not
playing him a trick. One glance sufficed to tell Phil that the
man had really been hit.
"I hope he isn't much hurt, but I'm not going to take any
Phil jerked off his coat and began ripping it up, regardless of
the fact that it was his best. With the strands thus secured, he
approached his prisoner cautiously, then suddenly jumped on him.
Larry was not able to give more than momentary resistance.
Inside of three minutes Phil had the fellow's hands tied securely
behind his back. Gathering the stones about him in case of need,
the lad sat down and wiped the perspiration from his brow.
"I guess that about puts an end to your tricks, my fine fellow,"
The train had been finally stopped, and a force of men now dashed
back along the tracks. They had been in time to view the last
half of the battle of the stones, and when Red went down they set
up a loud triumphant yell. In a few minutes they had reached the
scene and had taken the prisoner in tow.
The train was at the top of the grade waiting, so the show people
and their captive were obliged to walk fully a mile to reach it.
Mr. Sparling, attracted by the uproar, had rushed from his
private car. He now met the party a little way down the tracks.
"I got him!" cried Phil, when he saw the owner approaching.
Red was carried to the next stop on the circus train. He was
not much hurt and had fully recovered before noon of that day,
much to Phil's relief, for he felt very badly that he had been
obliged to resort to stone throwing. The lad would have
preferred to use his fists. But, as the result of the capture,
Red Larry was put where he would bother circus trains no more for
some years. He was sentenced to a long term in prison.
The Great Sparling Shows moved on, playing in a few more
towns, and, one beautiful morning drew up at the city by the
Golden Gate. There the circus remained for a week, when the show
closed for the season. But the lads were a long way from home,
toward which they now looked longingly.
Mr. Sparling invited them to return with him in his private car
which was to cross the continent attached to regular passenger
trains, the show proper following at its leisure.
This invitation both boys accepted gladly, and during the trip
there were many long discussions between the three as to the
future of the Circus Boys. They had worked hard during the
season and had won new laurels on the tanbark. But they had not
yet reached the pinnacle of their success in the canvas-covered
arena, though each had saved, as the result of his season's work,
nearly twelve hundred dollars.
Phil and Teddy will be heard from again in a following volume
entitled: "THE CIRCUS BOYS IN DIXIE LAND; Or, Winning the
Plaudits of the Sunny South." Here they are destined to meet
with some of the pleasantest as well as the most thrilling
experiences of their circus career, in which both have many
opportunities to show their grit and resourcefulness.
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