The Circus Boys on the Flying Rings Or Making the Start in the Sawdust Life
Part 2 out of 4
"Is it possible? I didn't know that," marveled the boy. "And
does she perform?"
"Everybody works in this outfit, young man," laughed the
assistant, "as you will learn if you hang around long enough.
Going to the show?"
"Mr. Sparling provided me with tickets, thank you. But I've got
to get home first and put on some other clothes. This suit is
about done for, isn't it?"
"I should say it was. You did that stopping the horse, didn't
"Boss will buy you a new suit for that."
"Oh, no; I couldn't allow him to do that," objected Phil.
"Well, you are a queer youngster. So long. I'll see you when
you come in this afternoon. Wait, let me see your tickets."
The lad handed them over wonderingly, at which his questioner
"They're good seats. Hope you will enjoy the show."
"Thank you; I am sure I shall," answered Phil, touching his hat
and starting on a run for home.
Arriving there, Mrs. Cahill met him and threw up her hands in
horror when she observed the condition of his clothes.
"I am afraid they are gone for good," grinned Phil rather
"No. You leave them with me. I'll fix them up for you. I heard
how you saved that show woman's life. That was fine, my boy. I'm
proud of you, that I am. You did more than all those circus men
could do, and the whole town is talking about it."
"If you are going to the show you had better be getting ready,"
urged Phil, wishing to change the subject.
"All right, I will. I'll fix your clothes when I get back. Will
you be home to supper?"
"I don't know for sure. If I can I'll be back in time, but
please don't wait for me. Here is your ticket."
The lad hurried to the room the good woman had set aside for him
and quickly made the change of clothing. He was obliged to
change everything he had on, for even his shirt had been torn in
his battle with the broncho. After bathing and putting on the
fresh clothes, Phil hurried from the house, that he might miss
nothing of the show.
The sideshow band was blaring brazenly when he reached the lot.
The space in front of the main entrance was packed with people,
many of whom pointed to him, nodding their heads and directing
the attention of their companions to the lad.
Phil wished he might be able to skulk in by the back door and
thus avoid their attention, but as this was impossible, he pulled
his hat down over his eyes and worked his way slowly toward the
front of the crowd.
Getting near the entrance, he saw Mr. Sparling's assistant. The
latter, chancing to catch sight of Phil, motioned him to crawl
under the ropes and come in. The boy did so gratefully.
"The doors are not open yet, but you may go in. You will have
time to look over the animals before the crowd arrives, then you
can reach your seat before the others get in. Please let me see
those checks once more."
The assistant made a mental note of the section and number of the
seats for future reference and handed back the coupons.
Phil stole into the menagerie tent, relieved to be away from the
gaze and comments of the crowd that was massed in front.
"Gracious, I'm afraid I wouldn't make a very good circus man. I
hate to have everybody looking at me as if I were some natural or
unnatural curiosity. Wonder if I will know any of the show
people when they are made up, as they call it, and performing in
the ring? I shouldn't wonder if they didn't know me in my best
clothes, though," grinned the boy.
Phil had had the forethought to bring a few lumps of sugar in his
pocket. Entering the menagerie tent, he quickly made his way to
the place where the elephants were chained, giving each one of
the big beasts a lump. He felt no fear of them and permitted
them to run their sensitive trunks over him and into his pockets,
where they soon found the rest of the sugar.
After disposing of the sweets, both beasts emitted a loud
trumpeting. At such close quarters the noise they made seemed to
shake the ground.
"Why do they do that?" questioned Phil of the keeper.
"That's their way of thanking you for the sugar. You've made
friends of both of them for life. They'll never forget you, even
if they don't see you for several seasons."
"Do they like peanuts?"
"Do they? Just try them."
Phil ran to a snack stand at the opposite side of the tent and
bought five cents' worth of peanuts, then hurried back to the
elephants with the package.
"What are their names?"
"The big one is Emperor and the smaller one is called Jupiter,"
answered the keeper, who had already recognized his young
"Are they ever ugly?"
"Never have been. But you can't tell. An elephant is liable to
go bad most any time, then you--"
"But how can you tell, or can't you?"
"Most always, unless they are naturally bad."
"How do you know?"
"See that little slit on the cheek up there?"
"Yes," said Phil, peering at the great jowls wonderingly.
"Well, several days before they get in a tantrum you will see a
few tear drops--that's what I call them--oozing from that little
slit. I don't know whether it's water on the brain or what it is.
But when you see the tear drops you want to get from under and
chain Mr. Elephant down as quickly as possible.
"That is strange."
"Very. But it's a sure sign. Never knew it to fail, and I've
known some elephants in my time. But Emperor and Jupiter never
have shed a tear drop since I've known them. They are not the
crying kind, you know."
The lad nodded understandingly.
"How about the lions and the tigers--can you tell when they are
going to have bad spells?"
"Well," reflected the showman, "it's safe to say that they've
always got a grouch on. The cats are always--"
"Yes. All that sort of animals belong to the cat family and
they've got only one ambition in life."
"To kill somebody or something."
"But their keepers--don't they become fond of their keepers or
The elephant tender laughed without changing the expression of
his face. His laugh was all inside of him, as Phil characterized
"Not they! They may be afraid of their keeper, but they would as
soon chew him up as anybody else--I guess they would rather, for
they've always got a bone to pick with him."
"Do any of the men go in the cages and make the animals perform
"Oh, yes. Wallace, the big lion over there, performs every
afternoon and night. So does the tiger in the cage next to him."
Phil had dumped the bag of peanuts into his hat, which he held
out before him while talking. Two squirming trunks had been busy
conveying the peanuts to the pink mouths of their owners, so that
by the time Phil happened to remember what he had brought them,
there was not a nut left in the hat.
He glanced up in surprise.
"Emperor, you are a greedy old elephant," laughed Phil, patting
Emperor trumpeted loudly, and the call was immediately taken up
even more loudly by his companion.
"No, you can't have any more," chided Phil. "You will have
indigestion from what you've already eaten, I'm afraid. Behave,
and I'll bring you some more tonight if I come to the show," he
Two caressing trunks touched his hands, then traveled gently over
his cheeks. They tickled, but Phil did not flinch.
"You could do most anything with them now, you see," nodded the
keeper. "They'd follow you home if I would let them."
"Especially if my pockets were full of sweets."
"There's the animal trainer getting ready to go into the lion
cage, if you want to see him," the attendant informed him.
"Yes, I should like to. And thank you very much for your
"You're welcome. Come around again."
The boy hurried over to the lion cage. The people were now
crowding into the menagerie tent in throngs. There seemed to
Phil to be thousands already there. But all eyes now being
centered on Wallace's cage, they had no time to observe Phil, for
which he was duly thankful.
The animal trainer, clad in red tights, his breast covered with
spangles, was already at the door of the cage, whip in hand. When
a sufficient crowd had gathered about him, he opened the door,
and, entering the cage threw wide the iron grating that shut
Wallace off from the door end of the wagon. The big lion bounded
out with a roar that caused the people to crowd back
Then the trainer began putting the savage beast through its
paces, causing it to leap over his whip, jump through paper
hoops, together with innumerable other tricks that caused the
spectators to open their mouths in wonder. All the time Wallace
kept up a continual snarling, interspersed now and then with a
roar that might have been heard a quarter of a mile away.
This was a part of the exhibition, as Phil shrewdly discovered.
The boy was a natural showman, though unaware of the fact. He
noted all the little fine points of the trainer's work with as
much appreciation as if he had himself been an animal trainer.
"I half believe I should like to try that myself," was his mental
conclusion. "But I should want to make the experiment on a very
little lion at first. If I got out with a whole skin I might
want to tackle something bigger. I wonder if he is going into
the tiger cage?"
As if in answer to his question, an announcer shouted out the
information that the trainer would give an exhibition in the cage
of the tiger just before the evening performance.
"I'll have to see that," muttered Phil. "Guess I had better get
in and find my seat now."
At the same time the crowd, understanding that the lion
performance was over, began crowding into the circus tent.
The band inside swung off into a sprightly tune and Phil could
scarcely repress the inclination to keep time to it with his
feet. Altogether, things were moving pretty well with Phil
Forrest. They had done so ever since he left home the day before.
In that one day he had had more fun than had come to him in many
But his happy day would soon be ended. He sighed as he thought
of it. Then his face broke out into a sunny smile as he caught a
glimpse of the ropes and apparatus, seen dimly through the
afternoon haze, in the long circus tent.
As he gained the entrance between the two large tents he saw the
silk curtains at the far end of the circus arena fall apart,
while a troop of gayly caparisoned horses and armored riders
suddenly appeared through the opening.
The grand entry was beginning.
"Gracious, here the show has begun and I am not anywhere near my
seat," he exclaimed. "But, if I am going to be late I won't be
alone. There are a whole lot more of us that were too much
interested in the animal trainer to think to come in and get our
seats. I guess I had better run. I--"
Phil started to run, but he got no further than the start.
All at once his waist was encircled in a powerful grip and he
felt his feet leaving the ground. Phil was being raised straight
up into the air by some strange force, the secret of which he did
IN THE SAWDUST ARENA
The lad repressed an inclination to cry out, for the thing that
had encircled his waist and raised him up seemed to be tightening
A familiar voice just behind him served to calm Phil's disquieted
"Don't be frightened, kid. It's only Emperor having a little
joke. He's a funny fellow," said the elephant's attendant.
Phil had read somewhere that elephants possessed a keen sense of
humor, and now he was sure of it. But he never thought he would
have an opportunity to have the theory demonstrated on himself.
The elephants were on their way to participate in the grand
entry, and there was not a minute to spare now. Emperor on his
way into the other tent had come across his new-found friend and
recognized him instantly, while Phil had not even heard the
approach of the elephants.
No sooner had the elephant discovered the lad than he picked him
up with his trunk, slowly hoisting the boy high in the air.
"Steady, Emperor! Steady!" cautioned the attendant. But Emperor
needed no admonition to deal gently with his young friend. He
handled Phil with almost the gentleness of a mother lifting a
Phil Forrest experienced a thrill that ran all through him when
he realized what was taking place.
"We can't stop to put you down now, my boy. You'll have to go
through the performance with us. Grab the head harness when he
lets you down on his head. You can sit on the head without
danger, but keep hold of the harness with one hand. I'll bet
you'll make a hit."
"I will if I fall off," answered Phil a bit unsteadily.
As it was, the unusual motion made him a little giddy.
"That's a good stunt. Stick to him, Forrest," directed a voice
as they swept on toward the ring.
The voice belonged to Mr. Sparling, the owner of the show. He
was quick to grasp the value of Phil's predicament--that is, its
value to the show as a drawing card.
By now the people began to understand that something unusual was
going on, and they asked each other what it was all about.
"It's Phil Forrest riding the elephant," shouted one of the lad's
school friends, recognizing him all at once. "Hooray for Phil!"
There were many of the pupils from his school there, and the
howling and shouting that greeted him made the lad's cheeks burn.
But now, instead of wanting to crawl under something and hide,
Phil felt a thrill of pleasure, of pride in the achievement that
was denied to all the rest of his friends.
The inspiring music of the circus band, too, added to his
exhilaration. He felt like throwing up his hands and shouting.
Suddenly he felt something tugging at his coat pocket, and
glancing down gave a start as he discovered the inquisitive trunk
of Emperor thrust deep down in the pocket.
When the trunk came away it brought with it a lump of sugar that
Phil did not know he possessed. The sugar was promptly conveyed
to the elephant's mouth, the beast uttering a loud scream of
"Emperor, you rascal!" laughed Phil, patting the beast on the
Once more the trunk curled up in search of more sugar, but a
stern command from the trainer caused the beast to lower it
quickly. The time for play had passed. The moment had arrived
for Emperor to do his work and he was not the animal to shirk his
act. In fact, he seemed to delight in it. All elephants work
better when they have with them some human being or animal on
which they have centered their affections. Sometimes it is a
little black and tan dog, sometimes a full-grown man. In this
instance it happened to be a boy, and that boy Phil Forrest.
"Waltz!" commanded the trainer.
If Phil's head had swum before, it spun like a top now. Round
and round pirouetted the huge beasts, keeping in perfect step
with the music of the band, and tighter and tighter did the lad
grip the head harness of old Emperor. Phil closed his eyes after
a little because he had grown so dizzy that he feared he would
"Hang on, kid. It'll be Christmas by and by," comforted the
"That's what I am trying to do," answered Phil a bit unsteadily.
"How's your head?"
"Whirling like a merry-go-round."
He heard the trainer chuckling.
The spectators were shouting out Phil's name all over the big
"Fine, fine!" chuckled James Sparling, rubbing his palms
together. "That ought to fill the tent tonight."
The spectators realized, too, that they were being treated to
something not down on the bills and their shouts and laughter
grew louder and louder.
"Do you think you could stand up on his head?" came the voice of
the trainer just loud enough for Phil to hear.
"Me? Stand on the elephant's head?"
"Yes. Think you can do it?"
"If I had a net underneath to catch me, maybe I'd try it."
"Emperor won't let you fall. When I give the word he'll wrap his
trunk around your legs. That will hold you steady from the waist
down. If you can keep the rest of yourself from lopping over
you'll be all right. It'll make a hit--see if it don't."
"I--I'll try it."
"Wait till I give the word, then get up on all fours, but don't
straighten up till you feel the trunk about you. We'll make a
showman of you before you know it."
"I seem to be the whole show as it is," grumbled Phil.
"You are, just now--you and Emperor. Good thing the other
performers are not in the ring, or they would all be jealous of
"I wish Uncle Abner could see me now. Wouldn't he be mad!"
grinned Phil, as the memory of his crabbed relative came back to
him. "He'd come right out after me with his stick, he'd be so
angry. But I guess Emperor wouldn't let him touch me," decided
the boy proudly, with an affectionate pat to which the elephant
responded with a cough that sounded not unlike the explosion of a
"All ready now. Don't be afraid. Hold each position till I give
you the word to change it."
"Ready," announced the lad.
The twitching of a ponderous ear of each animal told that they
had heard and understood.
Phil had scrambled to all fours.
"Hold him, Emperor!"
The great trunk curled up, ran over the boy's legs and twined
"Up you go, kid!"
Phil raised himself fearlessly, straightened and stood full upon
his feet. That strong grip on his legs gave him confidence and
told him he had nothing to fear. All he would have to do would
be to keep his ears open for the trainer's commands both to
himself and the beast, and he would be all right.
He felt himself going up again.
The sensation was something akin to that which Phil had once
experienced when jumping off a haystack. He felt as if his whole
body were being tickled by straws.
The elephants were rising on their hind legs, uttering shrill
screams and mighty coughs, as if enraged over the humiliation
that was being put upon them.
It seemed to Phil as if Emperor would never stop going up until
the lad's head was against the top of the tent. He ventured to
What a distance it was! Phil hastily directed his glances
At last the elephant had risen as high as he could go. He was
standing almost straight up and down, and on his head the slender
figure of the boy appeared almost unreal to those off on the
Thunders of applause swept over the assemblage. People rose up
in their seats, the younger ones hurling hats high in the air and
uttering catcalls and shrill whistles, until pandemonium reigned
under the "big top," as the circus tent proper is called by the
"Swing your hat at them!"
The trainer had to shout to make himself heard, and as it was
Phil caught the words as from afar off.
He took off his soft hat and waved it on high, gazing wonderingly
off over the seats. He could distinguish nothing save a waving,
undulating mass of moving life and color.
It was intoxicating. And Phil Forrest went suddenly dizzy again.
"I'm losing my head," rebuked the lad. "If I don't pull myself
together I shall surely fall off. Then they will have something
to laugh at rather than to applaud."
He took himself firmly in hand. But the applause did not abate
"Watch out, we're going down," warned the trainer.
The elephant trainer's command came out like the crack of a
Slowly the great beasts lowered themselves toward the sawdust
"Stoop over and grab the harness!"
Phil did so.
"Sit! Let go, Emperor!"
The trunk was released instantly and Phil plumped to the beast's
head once more, amid the wildest applause.
The band swung into another tune, which was the signal for the
next act to be brought on. At the same time the ringmaster blew
a shrill blast on his whistle.
The trainer left the ring with his charges by an exit that he
seldom departed through. But he did so in order to leave Phil
near the place where his seats were, first having ascertained
where these were located.
"Put him down, Emperor! Down, I say!"
Emperor reached up an unwilling trunk, grasped Phil about the
waist and stood him on the ground. At the trainer's command the
beast released his hold of his friend and as the hook was gently
pressed against his side to hurry him, Emperor started
Phil, with flushed face, a happy look in his eyes, had turned to
run up the aisle to his seats, when, with a loud trumpeting,
Emperor wheeled, and breaking away from his trainer, swept down
toward the spot where he had left Phil Forrest.
The movement almost threw those in that section into a panic.
Women screamed, believing the animal had suddenly gone crazy,
while men sprang to their feet.
Phil had turned at the first alarm, and, observing what was
taking place, with rare presence of mind trotted down to the
He reached there about the same time that Emperor did.
With a shrill scream Emperor threw his long trunk about the lad,
and before Phil had time to catch his breath, he had been hurled
to the elephant's back.
Uttering loud trumpetings the great elephant started on a swift
shamble for his quarters, giving not the slightest heed to his
trainer's commands to halt.
GETTING HIS FIRST CALL
"Let him go. Emperor won't hurt me," laughed Phil as soon as he
could get his breath, for he was moving along at a pace which
would have meant a tumble to the ground had the elephant not
supported the lad with its trunk.
The audience soon seeing that no harm had come to the boy, set up
another roar, which was still loud in Phil's ears when Emperor
set his burden down after reaching the elephant quarters in the
"You're a bad boy. Get down, sir, and let me off," chided Phil.
The elephant, to his surprise, cautiously let himself down to his
knees, his trunk at the same time reaching out surreptitiously
for a wisp of fresh grass.
Phil slipped off, laughing heartily. He had lost all fear of the
great, hulking beast.
"Don't punish him, please," begged the boy when the keeper came
hurrying along with Jupiter. "But if you will make him let me
alone, I'll go in the other tent. I want to see the circus."
"Wait a moment. I'll chain him up."
The keeper soon had Emperor fast. Then after a final
affectionate petting Phil ran lightly to the other tent and
quickly made his way to his seat. The people were so engrossed
in the acts in the ring that they did not observe the boy
particularly this time.
"Did I make a show of myself, Mrs. Cahill?" questioned the lad,
with sparkling eyes.
"You did not. You were as handsome as a picture. There isn't
one of all those people that looks so handsome or so manly as--"
"Please, please, Mrs. Cahill!" begged the lad, blushing
violently. "Have you seen anything of my friend Teddy? I had
forgotten all about him."
"That looks like him down there."
"There, leaning against that pole," she pointed.
Phil gazed in the direction indicated, and there, sure enough,
was Teddy Tucker leaning carelessly against the center pole. He
had no right to be there, as Phil well knew, and he watched with
amused interest for the moment when the other boy's presence
would be discovered.
It came shortly afterwards. All at once the ringmaster fixed a
cold eye on Teddy.
Teddy gave no heed to him.
"Get out of there! Think you own this show?"
The lad made believe that he did not hear.
The ringmaster's long whip lash curled through the air, going off
with a crack that sounded as if a pistol had been fired, and
within an inch of Teddy's nose.
Teddy sprang back, slapping a hand to his face, believing that he
had been hit. Then there followed a series of disconcerting
snaps all around his head as the long lash began to work, but so
skillfully was it wielded that the end of it did not touch him.
But Teddy had had enough. He turned and ran for the seats.
"Come up here," cried Phil, laughing immoderately. "Here's a
seat right beside us and there won't be any ringmaster to bother
Considerably crestfallen, the lad climbed up to where Phil and
Mrs. Cahill were sitting.
"You mustn't go down there, you know, Teddy. They don't allow
outsiders in the ring while the performance is going on. Someone
might get hurt--"
"They let you in," bristled Teddy.
"That was different. They couldn't help themselves, and neither
could I. Emperor took me in whether I would or not; and, in
fact, I didn't know I was going till I was halfway there."
Phil's companion surveyed him with admiration.
"My, but you did cut a figure up on that elephant's head! I
should have been afraid."
"There was nothing to be afraid of. But let's watch the
performance. There's a trapeze act going on now."
For a few moments the lads watched the graceful bodies of the
performers slipping through the air. One would swing out from
his perch, flying straight into the arms of his fellow-performer
who was hanging head down from another swinging bar. On the
return sweep the first performer would catch his own bar and
return to his perch.
"Looks easy. I'll bet I could do that," nodded Teddy.
Phil shook his head.
"Not so easy as it looks."
"How much do you suppose they get--think they must get as much as
a dollar and a half a day for doing that? I'd do it for a
dollar, if I could," averred the irrepressible Teddy Tucker.
"They get a good many more dollars than that, Teddy. I've heard
that some of them get all of twenty-five or thirty dollars a
Phil's companion whistled.
The next act was a bareback riding exhibition, by a pretty,
graceful young woman whom the ringmaster introduced as
At the crack of the whip she sprang lightly to the back of the
gray old ring horse and began a series of feats that made the
boys sit forward in their seats.
At the conclusion of the act Mademoiselle Mora ran out to the
edge of the ring, and blowing a kiss at the blushing Phil,
tripped away on fairy feet for the dressing tent.
"Did you see her? She bowed to me?" exclaimed Teddy
"Guess she didn't see you at all, young man," replied Mrs. Cahill
dryly. "There's others in the tent besides you, even if the
ringmaster did crack his whip in your face and just miss your
A clown came out and sang a song about a boy who had rescued a
beautiful young woman from a runaway horse and got kidnaped by an
elephant. The song made a hit, for most of the audience
understood that it referred to Phil Forrest.
And so the performance went on, with a glitter and a crash, a
haze of yellow dust hanging like a golden cloud in the afternoon
sun, over spectators and performers alike.
"Hello, there's Rod!" exclaimed Teddy.
"Rod. The red-haired kid we saw this morning, only his hair is
black now. He's covered up his own looks so he won't set the
tent on fire."
"Oh, you mean Rodney Palmer? Yes, I guess that is he."
"See, they're pulling him up on a rope. I wonder where he is
"To those flying rings," explained Phil. "And there is a young
woman going up, too."
One after another was pulled up, until a troupe of four had
ascended and swung off to the rings that were suspended far up
there in the haze.
Both Phil and Teddy were more than ordinarily interested in this
act, for they were no mean performers on the rings themselves. In
the schoolyard an apparatus had been rigged with flying rings,
and on this the boys had practiced untiringly during the spring
months, until they had both become quite proficient.
"Isn't he great?" breathed Teddy, as Rodney Palmer swung out into
the air, letting his legs slip through the rings until only his
toes were hanging to the slender support.
"Yes; he certainly does do it fine."
"We can do it just as well."
"Perhaps, but not so gracefully."
"See, he's swinging his hand at us."
Sure enough, Rodney had picked out the two lads, and was smiling
at them and waving a hand in their direction. The two lads felt
very proud of this, knowing as they did that they were the envy
of every boy of their acquaintance within sight of them.
The climax of the act was when the young woman seemed to plunge
straight down toward the ground.
The women in the audience uttered sharp little cries of alarm.
But the performer was not falling. Strong slender ropes had been
fastened to her heels, the other ends being held by one of the
performers who was hanging from the rings.
As a result the falling girl's flight was checked just before she
reached the ground and the spectators breathed a sigh of profound
"My, that was great! I wouldn't want to do that."
"No, you're too heavy, Teddy. That's why they have a girl do it.
She is slender and light--"
"I'd be light headed."
"Guess, I would, too," laughed Phil.
At this juncture an attendant came running up the steps, halting
before the lads.
"Are you Phil Forrest?" he asked.
"The boss wants to see you."
"Mr. Sparling? All right. I wanted to see the rest of the show,
but I'll go." Phil rose reluctantly and followed the guide.
"I'll meet you by the ticket wagon if I don't get back here,
Teddy," he said.
PHIL GETS A SURPRISE
"Where will I find Mr. Sparling?"
"In the doghouse."
"Out back of the ticket wagon. It's a little A tent, and we call
it the boss's doghouse, because it's only big enough to hold a
couple of St. Bernards."
"Oh! What does he want of me?"
"Ask him," grinned the attendant, who, it developed, was an usher
in the reserved-seat section. "He don't tell us fellows his
business. Say, that was a great stunt you did with Emperor."
"Oh, I don't know."
"I do. There's the doghouse over there. See it?"
"Yes, thank you."
The attendant leaving him, Phil walked on alone to Mr. Sparling's
private office, for such was the use to which he put the little
tent that the usher had called the "doghouse."
"I wonder what he can want of me?" mused Phil. "Probably he
wants to thank me for stopping that pony. I hope he doesn't. I
don't like to be thanked. And it wasn't much of anything that I
did anyway. Maybe he's going to--but what's the use of
The lad stepped up to the tent, the flaps of which were closed.
He stretched out his hand to knock, then grinned sheepishly.
"I forgot you couldn't knock at a tent door. I wonder how
visitors announce themselves, anyway."
His toe, at that moment, chanced to touch the tent pole and that
gave him an idea. Phil tapped against the pole with his foot.
"Come in!" bellowed the voice of the owner of the show.
Phil entered, hat in hand. At the moment the owner was busily
engaged with a pile of bills for merchandise recently purchased
at the local stores, and he neither looked up nor spoke.
Phil stood quietly waiting, noting amusedly the stern scowl that
appeared to be part of Mr. Sparling's natural expression.
"Well, what do you want?" he demanded, with disconcerting
"I--I was told that you had sent for me, that you wanted to see
me," began the lad, with a show of diffidence.
"So I did, so I did."
The showman hitched his camp chair about so he could get a better
look at his visitor. He studied Phil from head to foot with his
"On the ground, sir?"
"Ground? No, of course not. Where's that chair? Oh, my lazy
tent man didn't open it. I'll fire him the first place we get to
where he won't be likely to starve to death. I hear you've been
trying to put my show out of business."
"I wasn't aware of it, sir," replied Phil, looking squarely at
his questioner. "Perhaps I was not wholly blameless in attaching
myself to Emperor."
"Huh!" grunted Mr. Sparling, but whether or not it was a grunt of
disapproval, Phil could not determine.
"So you're not living at home?"
"I have no home now, sir."
"Just so, just so. Brought up in refined surroundings, parents
dead, crabbed old uncle turned you out of doors for reasons best
known to himself--"
Phil was amazed.
"You seem to know all about me, sir."
"Of course. It's my business to know something about everything.
I ought to thank you for getting Mrs. Sparling out of that mix-up
this morning, but I'll let her do that for herself. She wants to
see you after the performance."
"I don't like to be thanked, Mr. Sparling, though I should like
to know Mrs. Sparling," said Phil boldly.
"Neither do I, neither do I. Emperor has gone daffy over you.
What did you feed him?"
"Some sugar and peanuts. That was all."
"Huh! You ought to be a showman."
"I have always wanted to be, Mr. Sparling."
"Oh, you have, eh?"
"Well, why don't you?"
"I have never had the opportunity."
"You mean you've never looked for an opportunity. There are
always opportunities for everything, but we have to go after
them. You've been going after them today for the first time, and
you've nailed one of them clear up to the splice of the center
"Not entirely, sir."
"Well, do you want to join out with the Great Sparling Combined
Shows, or don't you?"
"You mean--I join the--the--"
Mr. Sparling was observing him narrowly.
"I said, would you like to join our show?"
"I should like it better than anything else in the world."
"Sign this contract, then," snapped the showman, thrusting a
paper toward Phil Forrest, at the same time dipping a pen in the
ink bottle and handing it to him.
"You will allow me to read it first, will you not?"
"Good! That's the way I like to hear a boy talk. Shows he's got
some sense besides what he's learned in books at some--well,
"What--what is this, ten dollars a week?" gasped Phil, scarcely
able to believe his eyes as he looked at the paper.
"That's what the contract says, doesn't it?"
"Then, that's what it is. Traveling expenses and feed included.
You are an easy keeper?"
"Well, I don't eat quite as much as a horse, if that's what you
mean," laughed Phil.
After reading the contract through, the lad affixed his signature
to it with trembling hand. It was almost too good to be true.
"Thank you, sir," he said, laying the paper before Mr. Sparling.
"And now, my lad," added the showman more mildly, "let me give
you some advice. Some folks look upon circus people as rough and
intemperate. That day's past. When a man gets bad habits he's
of no further use in the circus business. He closes mighty
quick. Remember that."
"Yes, sir. You need not worry about my getting into any such
"I don't, or I wouldn't take you. And another thing: Don't get
it into your head, as a good many show people do, that you know
more about running the business than the boss does. He might not
agree with you. It's a bad thing to disagree with the boss, eh?"
"I understand, sir."
"What do you want me to do? I don't know what I can do to earn
that salary, but I am willing to work at whatever you may put me
"That's the talk. I was waiting for you to come to that. But
leave the matter to me. You'll have a lot of things to do, after
you get your bearings and I find out what you can do best. As it
is, you have earned your salary for the first season whether you
do anything else or not. You saved the big cat and you probably
saved my wife's life, but we'll let that pass. When can you join
"I'm ready now, sir. I shall want to go home and get my things
and my books."
"Huh! That's right. Take your time. We shan't be pulling out
of here till after midnight, so you'd better go home and get
ready. You'll want to bid good-bye to Mrs. Ca--Ca--Cahill."
"I wonder if there is anything that he doesn't know about,"
"Anything you want to ask me about--any favor you'd like? If
there is, get it out."
"Well, yes, there is, but I scarcely feel like asking it, you
have been so kind to me."
"I--I have a little friend, who--who, like myself, has no parents
and is crazy over the circus. He wants to be a circus man just
as much as I do. If you had a place--if you could find something
for him to do, I should appreciate it very much."
"Who is he, that youngster with the clown face, who crawled in
under the tent this afternoon?"
Phil laughed outright.
"I presume so. That's the way he usually gets in."
"Where is he now?"
"Seeing the performance, sir."
"Nail him when he comes out. We'll give him all the show he
With profuse thanks Phil Forrest backed from the tent and walked
rapidly toward the entrance. It seemed to him as if he were
walking on air.
"Let that boy through. He's with the show now," bellowed Mr.
Sparling, poking his head from the doghouse tent.
The gateman nodded.
"How soon will the performance be over?" inquired Phil,
approaching the gateman.
"Ten minutes now."
"Then, I guess I won't go in. I promised to meet Teddy over by
the ticket wagon anyway."
But Phil could not stand still. Thrusting his hands in his
pockets he began pacing back and forth, pondering deeply. He did
not observe the shrewd eyes of Mr. Sparling fixed upon him from
behind the flap of the little tent.
"At last, at last!" mused Phil. "I'm a real live showman at
last, but what kind of a showman I don't know. Probably they'll
make me help put up the tents and take them down. But, I don't
care. I'll do anything. And think of the money I'll earn. Ten
dollars a week!" he exclaimed, pausing and glancing up at the
fluttering flags waving from center and quarter poles. "Why,
it's a fortune! I shall be able to save most all of it, too. Oh,
I'm so happy!"
"They're coming out," called the gateman to him.
Phil's face was full of repressed excitement when Teddy came
slouching up to him.
"Bully show," announced the lad. "Didn't know which way to look,
there was so much to be seen."
"How would you like to join the show and be a real circus man?"
"Maybe I can fix it for you."
"Don't give me such a shock, Phil. You said it almost as if you
"And I did."
Teddy gazed at his companion for a full minute.
"Something's been going on, I guess--something that I don't seem
to know anything about."
"There has, Teddy. I'm already a showman. You come with me. Mr.
Sparling wants to speak with you. Don't be afraid of him. He
talks as if he was mad all the time, but I'm sure he isn't."
Grasping Teddy by the arm Phil rushed him into Mr. Sparling's
tent, entering this time without knocking.
"This is my friend whom I spoke to you about," announced Phil,
thrusting Teddy up before the showman.
Mr. Sparling eyed the lad suspiciously.
"Want to join out, too, eh?"
"I--I'd like to," stammered Teddy.
"Do your parents approve of your going with a show?"
"I--I don't know, sir."
"You'd better find out, then. Ask them mighty quick. This is no
camp meeting outfit that plays week stands."
" 'Cause they're dead."
"Huh! Why didn't you say so before?"
"You didn't ask me."
"You're too smart, young man."
"Takes a smart man to be a circus man, doesn't it?"
"I guess you're right at that," answered the showman, his stern
features relaxing into a smile. "You'll do. But you'd better
not hand out that line of sharp talk in bunches when you get with
the show. It might get you into trouble if you did."
"Yes, sir; I'll be good."
"Now, you boys had better run along and make your preparations.
You may take your supper in the cook tent tonight if you wish.
But you will have to be on hand promptly, as they take down the
cook tent first of all."
"Thank you; we will," answered Phil.
"What act--what do I perform?" questioned Teddy, swelling with
"Ho, ho, ho!"
"I'm going to be a performer and wear pink pants, ain't I?"
"A performer? Oh, that's too good. Yes, my son, you shall be a
performer. How would you like to be a juggler?"
"Then, I think I'll let you juggle the big coffeepot in the cook
tent for the edification of the hungry roustabouts," grinned Mr.
"What do I do?"
"Do, young man--do?"
"Why, you stand by the coffee boiler in the cook tent, and when
you hear a waiter bawl 'Draw one,' at the same time throwing a
pitcher at you from halfway across the tent, you catch the
pitcher and have it filled and ready for him by the time he gets
"Do I throw the pitcherful of coffee back at him?" questioned
"You might, but you wouldn't be apt to try it a second time.
You'd be likely to get a resounding slap from the flat of his
"I'd hit him on the nose if he did," declared Teddy
Mr. Sparling could not resist laughing.
"That's not the way to begin. But you will learn. Follow your
friend Phil, here, and you will be all right if I am any judge of
boys. I ought to be, for I have boys of my own. You'd better be
The two lads started off at a brisk pace. Phil to tell Mrs.
Cahill of his good fortune. Teddy to bid good-bye to the people
with whom he had been living as chore boy.
THE FIRST NIGHT WITH THE SHOW
"Teddy, you and I are a pair of lucky boys. Do you know it?"
Each, with his bag of belongings, was on his way to the circus
lot, the boys having bid good-bye to their friends in the
The people with whom Teddy lived had given a reluctant consent to
his going with the circus, after he had explained that Phil
Forrest had gotten him the place and that Phil himself was going
to join the show. The lad told them he was going to make a lot
of money and that someday he would pay them for all they had done
for him. And he kept his word faithfully.
"Maybe. I reckon Barnum & Bailey will be wanting us first thing
we know," answered Teddy.
"We shall be lucky if we hold on to the job we have already. Did
Mr. Sparling say what he would pay you?"
"No, he didn't think of that--at least I didn't. Did he tell you
how much you were going to get?"
"I don't think I had better say," answered the lad doubtfully.
"If you ask him and he tells you, of course that will be all
right. I shall be glad to do so then. It isn't that I don't want
you to know, you understand, but it might be better business,
just now, to say nothing about it," added Phil, with a wisdom far
beyond his years.
"Dark secret, eh?" jeered Teddy Tucker.
"No; there's no secret about it. It is just plain business,
"Business! Huh! Who ever heard of a circus being business?"
"You'll find business enough when you get in, Teddy Tucker."
"Don't believe it. It's just good fun and that's all."
They had reached the circus lot by this time and were now making
their way to Mr. Sparling's tent.
"We have come to report, sir," announced Phil, entering the tent
with Teddy close behind him. "We are ready for work."
There was a proud ring in Phil Forrest's voice as he made the
"Very well, boys. Hand your baggage over to the man at the
baggage wagon. If there is anything in either of your grips that
you will want during the night you had better get it out, for you
will be unable to get into the wagon after the show is on the
road. That's one of the early wagons to move, too."
"I guess there is nothing except our tooth brushes and combs that
we shall need. We have those in our pockets."
"Better take a couple of towels along as well."
"Yes, sir; thank you."
"The cook tent is open. Go over and have your suppers now. Wait
a moment, I'll go with you. They might not let you in. You see,
they don't know you there yet."
Mr. Sparling, after closing and locking his trunk, escorted the
lads to the cook tent, where he introduced both to the manager of
"Give them seats at the performers' table for tonight," he
directed. "They will be with the show from now on. Mr. Forrest
here will remain at that table, but the other, the Tucker boy, I
shall probably turn over to you for a coffee boy."
The manager nodded good naturedly, taking quick mental measure of
the two lads.
The boys were directed to their seats, which they took, almost as
if in a dream. It was a new and unfamiliar experience to them.
The odor of the food, the sweet scents from the green grass
underneath their feet, all so familiar to the showman, gave Phil
and Teddy appetites that even a canvasman might have envied.
The performers glanced at them curiously, some of the former
nodding to Phil, having recognized in him the boy who had ridden
the elephant into the arena in the grand entry.
"Not so much after all, are they?" grunted Teddy.
"They are all human beings like ourselves, I guess," replied
Stripped of their gaudy costumes and paint, the performers looked
just like other normal beings. But instead of talking about the
show and their work, they were discussing the news of the day,
and it seemed to the two lads to be more like a large family at
supper than a crowd of circus performers.
Rodney Palmer nodded good naturedly to them from further up the
long table, but they had no more than time to nod back when a
waiter approached to take their orders. Teddy ordered pretty
much everything on the bill, while Phil was more modest in his
"Don't eat everything they have," he warned laughingly.
"Plenty more where this came from. That's one good thing about a
"If the food gives out they can eat the animals."
"Better look out that the animals don't make a meal of you."
"Joining out?" asked the man sitting next to Phil.
"I don't know yet what I am to do. Mr. Sparling is giving me a
chance to find out what I am good for, if anything," smiled Phil.
"Boss is all right," nodded the circus man. "That was a good
stunt you did this afternoon. Why don't you work that up?"
"I--I'll think about it." Phil did not know exactly what was
meant by the expression, but it set him to thinking, and out of
the suggestion he was destined to "work up" something that was
really worthwhile, and that was to give him his first real start
in the circus world.
"What's that funny-looking fellow over there doing?" interrupted
"That man down near the end of the table?"
"That's Billy Thorpe, the Armless Wonder," the performer informed
"And he hasn't any hands?" wondered the boy.
"Naturally not, not having any arms. He uses his feet for
"What's he doing now?"
"Eating with his feet. He can use them almost as handily as you
can your hands. You should see Billy sew, and write and do other
things. Why, they say he writes the best foot of anybody in the
"Doesn't he ever get cold feet?" questioned Teddy humorously.
"Circus people are not afflicted with that ailment. Doesn't go
well with their business."
"May I ask what you do?" inquired Phil.
"I am the catcher in the principal trapeze act. You may have
seen me today. I think you were in the big top then."
"Oh, yes, I saw you this afternoon."
"How many people are with the show?" asked Teddy.
"At a rough guess, I should say a hundred and fifty including
canvasmen and other labor help. It's a pretty big organization
for a road show, the biggest in the country; but it's small, so
small it would be lost if one of the big railroad shows was
"Is that another armless or footless wonder next to Billy
Thorpe?" asked Teddy.
"It's a freak, yes, but with hands and feet. That's the living
skeleton, but if he keeps on eating the way he's been doing
lately the boss will have to change the bills and bill him as the
fattest man on earth."
"Huh!" grunted Teddy. "He could crawl through a rat hole in a
barn door now. He's thin enough to cut cheese with."
Phil gave his companion a vigorous nudge under the table.
"You'll get into trouble if you are so free in expressing your
opinions," he whispered. "Don't forget the advice Mr. Sparling
"Apple or custard pie?" broke in the voice of the waiter.
"Custard," answered Phil.
"Both for mine," added Teddy.
He got what he had ordered and without the least question, for
the Sparling show believed that the best way to make its people
contented was to feed them.
Mr. Sparling and his assistants, Phil observed, occupied a table
by themselves. After he had finished the owner motioned to him
to join them, and there Mrs. Sparling made a place for him by her
side and thanked him briefly but warmly for his brave act.
"I shall have to keep an eye on you two boys," she smiled. "Any
time I can help you with advice or otherwise you come right to
me. Don't you be backward about doing so, will you?"
Phil assured her that he would not.
The two lads after some further conversation strolled from the
"I think I'll go in and see how the animals are getting along,"
decided Phil, beginning to realize that he was free to go where
he would and without fear of being ordered off.
Already people were gathering in front of the entrance for the
night performance. The doors were advertised to open at seven
o'clock, so that the spectators might have plenty of time in
which to view the collection of "rare and wonderful beasts,
gathered from the remote places of the earth," as the announcer
proclaimed from the vantage point of a dry goods box.
Phil bought a bag of peanuts and took them in to his friend
Emperor, the beast uttering a shrill cry of joy when he saw Phil
"I'll try to teach him my whistle," said the boy, puckering his
lips and giving the signal that the boys of his school used in
summoning each other.
"Think he'll remember that, Mr. Kennedy?" he asked of the
"Never forget it, will you, Emperor?"
The elephant coughed.
"Never forgets anything. Knows more than any man in the show
now, because he has lived longer."
"How old is he?"
"Close to a hundred."
"You don't say?" marveled Teddy. "Hope I'll be able to squeal as
loud as that when I'm a hundred. Has he got a hole through his
"Not that anybody knows of."
"Come on; I want to see the fellow tame the tiger. I missed that
today, because he didn't do it at the afternoon show."
They found Mr. Sparling standing in front of the cage. He, too,
was there to watch the performance.
"This looks to me like ready money," he observed to Phil, nodding
his head toward the people who were crowding into the tent.
"Mr. Forrest, will you ride Emperor in again tonight? I think
that's one of the reasons they have come here," said the showman,
shrewdly grasping the least thing that would tend to popularize
"Certainly, sir. I shall enjoy it very much."
They now turned their attention to the cage where the trainer had
begun with the savage tiger.
"Bengal is in an ugly temper about something tonight," announced
Mr. Sparling in a low tone. "Better be careful, Bob," he
cautioned, after having stepped up close to the cage.
"I'll take care of him," answered the trainer, without taking his
eyes from the beast for the fraction of a second.
Phil had heard the dialogue and now drew closer to the cage,
stepping under the rope and joining Mr. Sparling.
Teddy, of course, not to be left behind, crawled under the rope
"Sit down in front," shouted someone. "We can't see the animals
In a moment the spectators saw a play that was not down on the
Bob was swinging the whip over Bengal's nose, the cruel lash
cutting the tender snout with every blow. But he was not doing
it from sheer cruelty, as many of the spectators who raised their
voices in loud protest imagined.
Not understanding wild animals as the trainer did, they did not
realize that this plucky fellow was fighting for his life, even
though he used but a slender rawhide in his effort to do so.
Bengal was crowding him. The least mistake on the trainer's part
now and the savage tiger would put a quick and terrible end to
"Stand back, everybody! Bring the prods!" bellowed Mr. Sparling.
Phil understood that something was wrong, though he never would
have guessed it from the calm expression on the trainer's face.
Not a word did the performer speak, but his hand rained blows on
the nose, while snarl after snarl was spit from between Bengal's
The trainer was edging slowly toward the door. He knew that
nothing could be done with the beast in its present state of
His only hope was that at a favorable moment, when the attendants
came with their long, iron bars, he might be able to spring from
the door at his back, which he was trying to reach.
Phil's mind was working like an automatic machine. He saw now
what the trainer was attempting to do, and was seeking for some
means of helping the man. But what could a slender boy hope to
do against the power of a great, savage brute like Bengal?
Phil concluded there was nothing.
A pistol flashed almost in the face of the two lads. Mr.
Sparling had started away on a run to fetch the attendants who
either had not heard or failed to heed his call.
"What did he do that f-f-for?" stammered Teddy.
"To drive the tiger back. It was a blank cartridge that he
fired. I think the tiger is going to attack him. Yes, there he
goes! Oh, that's _terrible!_"
The trainer had been forced against the bars at the back of the
cage by the animal, whose length was more than the width of the
In an unsuspected moment the beast had sprung upon the
unfortunate man, and with one sweep of his powerful paw had laid
the man low.
With a growl of savage joy, the brute settled back against the
bars of the cage near which the lads were standing.
Women shrieked and men grew pale as they stood helpless to do
aught to avert the impending tragedy.
Teddy slipped out from under the rope, his face ashen gray. But
Phil stood his ground. He felt that he _must_ do something.
Then his opportunity came. The beast's great silken tail popped
out through the bars against which he was backing.
Phil Forrest, without an instant's thought of the danger into
which he was placing himself, sprang forward.
His hands closed over the tail, which he twisted about his right
arm in a flash, at the same time throwing up his feet and bracing
them against a wheel of the wagon.
No sooner had he done so than Bengal, uttering a frightful roar,
whirled. The force of the jerk as the brute turned hurled Phil
Forrest against the bars of the cage with a crash, and Bengal's
sharp-clawed feet made a vicious sweep for the body of the lad
pressed so tightly against the bars.
A THRILLING RESCUE
"Open the door and let the man out!" shouted Phil, with great
presence of mind. But no one seemed to have the power to move.
One sweep of the powerful claw and one side of the lad's clothes
was literally stripped from him, though he had managed to shrink
back just far enough to save himself from the needle like claws
of the tiger.
At this moment men came rushing from other parts of the tent.
Some bore iron rods, while two or three carried tent poles and
sticks--anything that the circus men could lay their hands upon.
Mr. Sparling was in the lead of the procession that dashed
through the crowd, hurling the people right and left as they ran.
With every spring of the tiger Phil was being thrown against the
bars with terrific force, but still he clung to the tail that was
wrapped about his arm, hanging on with desperate courage.
Though the lad was getting severe punishment, he was
accomplishing just what he had hoped for--to keep Bengal busy
until help arrived to liberate the unconscious trainer, who lay
huddled against the bars on the opposite side of the cage.
"Poke one of the tent poles in to him and let him bite it!"
roared Mr. Sparling. "Half a dozen of you get around behind the
cage and when we have his attention one of you pull Bob out.
Keep your poles in the opening when you open the door, so Bengal
doesn't jump out. Everybody stand back!"
The commands of the showman came out like so many explosions of a
pistol. But it had its effect. His men sprang to their work
In the meantime Mr. Sparling himself had grabbed the tail of the
beast, taking a hold higher up than Phil's.
"Pull the boy off. He's hanging on like a bull dog. If you had
half his sense you'd have put a stop to this mix-up minutes ago."
Teddy by this time had gotten in under the ropes again, and,
grasping his companion about the waist, he held on until he had
untwisted the tiger's tail from his companion's arm and released
Phil, staggering back with his burden against the rope.
Phil's limp body, the moment Teddy let go of him, collapsed in a
The circus men were too busy at the moment to notice him. One of
the men had thrust a short tent pole between the bars. Bengal
was upon it like an avalanche.
Biting, clawing, uttering fierce growls, he tore the hard wood
into shreds, the man at the other end poking at the beast with
all his might.
Cautiously the rear door of the cage was opened. Two men grasped
Bob by the shoulders and hauled him out with a quick pull.
The crowd shouted in approval.
"All out! Let go!" shouted Mr. Sparling.
It took the strength of two men to pull the tent pole from
Bengal's grip. The instant he lost the pole the beast whirled
and pounced upon the spot where he had left his victim.
Finding that he had lost his prey, the savage beast uttered roar
upon roar, that made every spectator in the tent tremble and draw
back, fearing the animal would break through the bars and attack
"Where's that boy?"
"Here he is, and I guess he's hurt," answered Teddy.
"Give him to me. I'll get him outside where we can get some
decent air into him. Is he much hurt?"
"I--I don't know."
The showman grabbed Phil, and as a helper lifted the bottom of
the tent's side wall, Mr. Sparling ran to his own small tent with
the unconscious Phil.
"Fetch a pail of water."
Teddy ran for the cook tent to get the water. He was amazed to
find no cook tent there. Instead, there remained only the open
plot of grass, trampled down, with a litter of papers and refuse
By the time he had dashed back to the tent to inquire where he
could find a pail, one of the showmen had brought some water and
Mr. Sparling was bathing Phil's face with it.
He had made a hasty examination of the unconscious boy's wounds,
which he did not believe were serious.
Phil soon came to, and by that time the show's doctor had
arrived, having been in attendance on the wounded animal trainer.
"No; he'll be sore for a few days, but there's nothing dangerous
about those scratches, I should say. I'll dress the wounds and
he can go on about his business," was the surgeon's verdict.
"I've got to ride Emperor in tonight," objected Phil.
"You'll do nothing of the sort. You'll get into my wagon and go
to bed. That's what you will do, and right quick, at that."
"But," urged the lad, "the people will all think I am seriously
hurt if they see no more of me. Don't you think it would be a
good plan for me to show myself? They are liable to be uneasy
all through the performance. If I show myself they will settle
down and forget all about it in a few minutes."
Mr. Sparling turned to his assistant with a significant nod.
"I told you that boy was a natural born showman. You can't stop
that kind with a club. Can you stand up alone?"
Phil scrambled to his feet, steadying himself with a hand on the
"I'll be all right after I walk about a bit. How long before the
elephants go in?"
"You've got fifteen minutes yet."
"Then I may go on?"
"Yes, yes, go on. You'll never be satisfied if you don't. But I
ought to take you over my knee and give you a sound walloping."
"Thank you. How is Mr.--Mr.--the trainer?"
"He isn't badly hurt, thanks to your presence of mind, young
man," answered the surgeon.
"That makes two people you've saved today, Forrest," emphasized
Mr. Sparling. "We will call that a day's work. You have earned
your meal ticket. Better run back to the dressing tent and ask
them to fix up some clothes for you. Ask for Mrs. Waite, the
wardrobe woman. Teddy Tucker, you run in and tell Mr. Kennedy,
who has charge of the elephants, that Phil will ride tonight, and
to wait until he gets in."
Both boys hurried away on their respective missions. All that
Mrs. Waite had that would come anywhere near fitting Phil was a
yellow robe that looked like a night gown. Phil grinned as he
tucked it under his arm and hurried back to the menagerie tent.
As he passed through the "big top" he saw that it was filling up
"I guess we are going to have a good house tonight," muttered the
lad with a pleased smile. It did not occur to him that he
himself was responsible for a large part of the attendance--that
the part he had played in the exciting incidents of the day had
done more to advertise the Great Sparling Combined Shows than any
other one factor.
"I am all ready, Mr. Kennedy," announced Phil, running to the
elephant quarters. The horns were blowing the signal for the
grand entry, so the lad grasped the head harness, as Emperor
stooped, and was quickly hoisted to the position in which he
would enter the ring.
When the people saw that it was indeed Phil they set up a great
shout. The lad was pale but resolute. As he went through the
performance, his wounds smarted frightfully. At times the pain
made him dizzy.
But Phil smiled bravely, waving his hands to the cheering people.
After the finish of the act Mr. Kennedy headed the elephants into
the concourse, the open space between the rings and the seats,
making a complete circuit of the tent, so that all might see Phil
"This is a kind of farewell appearance, you know," grinned
Kennedy. And so the audience took it.
The lad's former companions shouted all manner of things to him.
"Don't stick your head in the lion's mouth."
"Be careful when you twist the tiger's tail. Better put some
salt on it before you do."
"We'll look out for Uncle Abner."
Phil was grinning broadly as he rode back into the menagerie
tent. Everybody in town now knew that he had joined the circus,
which brought forth a variety of comments. Some said it would be
the end of the boy, but Phil Forrest knew that a boy could behave
himself with a circus just as well as in any other occupation,
and so far as his observations went, the circus people were much
better than some folks he knew at home.
No sooner had they gotten into the menagerie tent than a sudden
bustle and excitement were apparent. Confused shouts were heard
on all sides. Teams, fully harnessed, were being led into the
tent, quarter-poles were coming down without regard to where they
struck, everybody appearing to have gone suddenly crazy.
"They're striking the tent," nodded Mr. Kennedy, noting the boy's
wonderment. "You had better look out for yourself. Don't stand
in the way or you may get hurt," he warned.
"Get the bulls out!" called a man, hurrying by.
"They're getting," answered Kennedy.
"What do they mean by that?"
"In circus parlance, the 'bulls' are the elephants. Where you
going to ride tonight?"
"I don't know. Hello, there's my friend Teddy. I guess I had
better attach myself to him or he may get lost."
As a matter of fact, Phil was not sure where he was himself,
activities were following each other with such surprising
But the lads stuck to their ground until it was no longer safe to
do so. Phil was determined to see all there was to be seen, and
what he saw he remembered. He had no need to be told after that,
providing he understood the meaning of a certain thing at first.
Observing that one man was holding to the peak rope, and that it
was rapidly getting the best of him, both lads sprang to his
"That's right, boys. That's the way to do it. Always be ready
to take advantage of every opening. You'll learn faster that
way, and you'll both be full-fledged showmen before you know it."
"O Mr. Sparling," exclaimed Phil, after others had relieved them
on the rope.
"Yes? What is it?"
"I have been wanting to see you, to ask what you wish us to do
tonight--where we are to travel?"
"You may sleep in my wagon. I'll take a horse for tonight."
"I could not think of doing such a thing. No, Mr. Sparling, if I
am to be a circus man, I want to do just as the rest of them do.
Where do the other performers sleep?"
"Wherever they can find places. Some few of the higher paid ones
have berths in wagons. Others sleep in the band wagon. The
rest, I guess, don't sleep at all, except after we get into a
town. The menagerie outfit will be leaving town very soon now.
You may go through with them if you wish."
"If you do not object, I think I should prefer to remain until
the rest of the show goes out."
Mr. Sparling understood how the lads felt, and perhaps it would
be better to let them break in at once, he reasoned. They would
become seasoned much sooner.
The tent was taken down and packed away in the wagons in an
almost incredibly short time.
"Come on; let's go into the circus tent and see what's going on
there," suggested Teddy.
Phil agreed, and the lads strolled in. They found the
performance nearly over. When it was finished quite a large
number remained to see the "grand concert" that followed.
While this was going on there was a crash and a clatter as the
men ripped up and loaded the seats, piling them into waiting
wagons that had been driven into the tent from the rear so as not
to be in the way of the people going out.
"It's more fun to watch the men work than it is to see the
concert. That concert's a bum show," averred Teddy, thrusting his
hands in his pockets and turning his back on the "grand concert."
"I agree with you," laughed Phil. "There's nothing but the
freaks there, and we'll see them, after this, every time we go
for our meals."
"Have you been in the dressing tent yet?" asked Teddy.
"No, I haven't had time. We'll have to look in there tomorrow,
though I don't think they care about having people visit them
unless they belong there. Just now we don't. Do you start work
in the cook tent tomorrow?"
"Yes. I am to be the champion coffee drawer. I expect they will
have my picture on the billboards after a little. Wouldn't I
look funny with a pitcher of hot, steaming coffee in my hand
leaping over a table in the cook tent?" and Teddy laughed
heartily at the thought. "I'll bet I'd make a hit."
"You mean you would get hit."
The boys hung about until the big top had disappeared from the
lot. The tent poles and boxes of properties were being loaded on
the wagons, while out on the field, the ring horses, performing
ponies and the like stood sleeping, waiting for the moment when
they should be aroused for the start.
"Come on, Teddy; let's you and I go make up our beds."
"Where are they?"
"We'll have to ask the porter," laughed Phil, who had traveled a
little with his parents years before.
"It's a shame that that old tiger has to have a cage all to
himself. We could make up a fine bed if we had half of his cage
and some blankets," complained Teddy.
"Thank you. I should prefer to walk. I have had all the
argument I want with that beast. Let's go try the band wagon."
"All right; that would be fine to sleep way up there."
Laughing and chattering, the lads hunted about on the lot until
they found the great glittering band wagon. Being now covered
with canvas to protect it from the weather, they had difficulty
in making it out, but finally they discovered it, off near the
road that ran by the grounds. Four horses were hitched to it,
while the driver lay asleep on the high seat.
"Where will we get in?"
"I don't know, Teddy; we will climb up and find out."
Getting on the rear wheel they pulled themselves up, and finding
the canvas covering loose, threw it open. Teddy plumped in feet
Immediately there followed such a howling, such a snarling and
torrent of invective that, startled as he was, Phil lost his
balance on the wheel and fell off.
No sooner had he struck the ground than a dark figure came
shooting from above, landing on him and nearly knocking all the
breath out of his body.
Phil threw off the burden, which upon investigation proved to be
"Wha--what happened?" stammered Phil. "Sounds as if we had
gotten into a wild animal cage."
"I--I walked on somebody's face and he threw me out," answered
Teddy ruefully. Phil leaned against the wagon wheel and laughed
until his throat ached.
"Get out of here! What do you mean?" bellowed an angry voice
over their heads. "Think my face is a tight rope to be walked on
by every Rube that comes along?"
"Come--come on away, Teddy. We made a mistake. We got into the
"Here's another wagon, Phil. They're just hitching the horses.
Let's try this."
"All right, it's a canvas wagon. Go ahead, we'll try it."
"I've tried one wagon. It's your turn now," growled Teddy.
"I guess you're right. If I get thrown out you catch me the same
as I did you," laughed Phil.
"Yes, you _caught_ me, didn't you?"
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