Part 5 out of 6
The lion-and-tiger man, who had clawed his own face with the
beast-claws of his nature, whimpered protest when he saw his
employer's preparation to enter Hannibal's cage; for the
preparation consisted merely in equipping himself with a broom-
Hannibal was old, but he was reputed the largest lion in
captivity, and he had not lost his teeth. He was pacing up and
down the length of his cage, heavily and swaying, after the manner
of captive animals, when the unexpected audience erupted into the
space before his cage. Yet he took no notice whatever, merely
continuing his pacing, swinging his head from side to side,
turning lithely at each end of his cage, with all the air of being
bent on some determined purpose.
"That's the way he's been goin' on for two days," whimpered his
keeper. "An' when you go near 'm, he just reaches for you. Look
what he done to me." The man held up his right arm, the shirt and
undershirt ripped to shreds, and red parallel grooves, slightly
clotted with blood, showing where the claws had broken the skin.
"An' I wasn't inside. He did it through the bars, with one swipe,
when I was startin' to clean his cage. Now if he'd only roar, or
something. But he never makes a sound, just keeps on goin' up an'
"Where's the key?" Collins demanded. "Good. Now let me in. And
lock it afterward and take the key out. Lose it, forget it, throw
it away. I'll have all the time in the world to wait for you to
find it to let me out."
And Harris Collins, a sliver of a less than a light-weight man,
who lived in mortal fear that at table the mother of his children
would crown him with a plate of hot soup, went into the cage,
before the critical audience of his employees and professional
visitors, armed only with a broom-handle. Further, the door was
locked behind him, and, the moment he was in, keeping a casual but
alert eye on the pacing Hannibal, he reiterated his order to lock
the door and remove the key.
Half a dozen times the lion paced up and down, declining to take
any notice of the intruder. And then, when his back was turned as
he went down the cage, Collins stepped directly in the way of his
return path and stood still. Coming back and finding his way
blocked, Hannibal did not roar. His muscular movements sliding
each into the next like so much silk of tawny hide, he struck at
the obstacle that confronted his way. But Collins, knowing ahead
of the lion what the lion was going to do, struck first, with the
broom-handle rapping the beast on its tender nose. Hannibal
recoiled with a flash of snarl and flashed back a second sweeping
stroke of his mighty paw. Again he was anticipated, and the rap
on his nose sent him into recoil.
"Got to keep his head down--that way lies safety," the master-
trainer muttered in a low, tense voice.
"Ah, would you? Take it, then."
Hannibal, in wrath, crouching for a spring, had lifted his head.
The consequent blow on his nose forced his head down to the floor,
and the king of beasts, nose still to floor, backed away with
mouth-snarls and throat-and-chest noises.
"Follow up," Collins enunciated, himself following, rapping the
nose again sharply and accelerating the lion's backward retreat.
"Man is the boss because he's got the head that thinks," Collins
preached the lesson; "and he's just got to make his head boss his
body, that's all, so that he can think one thought ahead of the
animal, and act one act ahead. Watch me get his goat. He ain't
the hard case he's trying to make himself believe he is. And that
idea, which he's just starting, has got to be taken out of him.
The broomstick will do it. Watch."
He backed the animal down the length of the cage, continually
rapping at the nose and keeping it down to the floor.
"Now I'm going to pile him into the corner."
And Hannibal, snarling, growling, and spitting, ducking his head
and with short paw-strokes trying to ward off the insistent
broomstick, backed obediently into the corner, crumpled up his
hind-parts, and tried to withdraw his corporeal body within itself
in a pain-urged effort to make it smaller. And always he kept his
nose down and himself harmless for a spring. In the thick of it
he slowly raised his nose and yawned. Nor, because it came up
slowly, and because Collins had anticipated the yawn by being one
thought ahead of Hannibal in Hannibal's own brain, was the nose
"That's the goat," Collins announced, for the first time speaking
in a hearty voice in which was no vibration of strain. "When a
lion yawns in the thick of a fight, you know he ain't crazy. He's
sensible. He's got to be sensible, or he'd be springing or
lashing out instead of yawning. He knows he's licked, and that
yawn of his merely says: 'I quit. For the I love of Mike leave
me alone. My nose is awful sore. I'd like to get you, but I
can't. I'll do anything you want, and I'll be dreadful good, but
don't hit my poor sore nose.'
"But man is the boss, and he can't afford to be so easy. Drive
the lesson home that you're boss. Rub it in. Don't stop when he
quits. Make him swallow the medicine and lick the spoon. Make
him kiss your foot on his neck holding him down in the dirt. Make
him kiss the stick that's beaten him.--Watch!"
And Hannibal, the largest lion in captivity, with all his teeth,
captured out of the jungle after he was full-grown, a veritable
king of beasts, before the menacing broomstick in the hand of a
sliver of a man, backed deeper and more crumpled together into the
corner. His back was bowed up, the very opposite muscular
position to that for a spring, while he drew his head more and
more down and under his chest in utter abjectness, resting his
weight on his elbows and shielding his poor nose with his massive
paws, a single stroke of which could have ripped the life of
Collins quivering from his body.
"Now he might be tricky," Collins announced, "but he's got to kiss
my foot and the stick just the same. Watch!"
He lifted and advanced his left foot, not tentatively and
hesitantly, but quickly and firmly, bringing it to rest on the
lion's neck. The stick was poised to strike, one act ahead of the
lion's next possible act, as Collins's mind was one thought ahead
of the lion's next thought.
And Hannibal did the forecasted and predestined. His head flashed
up, huge jaws distended, fangs gleaming, to sink into the slender,
silken-hosed ankle above the tan low-cut shoes. But the fangs
never sank. They were scarcely started a fifth of the way of the
distance, when the waiting broomstick rapped on his nose and made
him sink it in the floor under his chest and cover it again with
"He ain't crazy," said Collins. "He knows, from the little he
knows, that I know more than him and that I've got him licked to a
fare-you-well. If he was crazy, he wouldn't know, and I wouldn't
know his mind either, and I wouldn't be that one jump ahead of
him, and he'd get me and mess the whole cage up with my insides."
He prodded Hannibal with the end of the broom-handle, after each
prod poising it for a stroke. And the great lion lay and roared
in helplessness, and at each prod exposed his nose more and lifted
it higher, until, at the end, his red tongue ran out between his
fangs and licked the boot resting none too gently on his neck,
and, after that, licked the broomstick that had administered all
"Going to be a good lion now?" Collins demanded, roughly rubbing
his foot back and forth on Hannibal's neck.
Hannibal could not refrain from growling his hatred.
"Going to be a good lion?" Collins repeated, rubbing his foot back
and forth still more roughly.
And Hannibal exposed his nose and with his red tongue licked again
the tan shoe and the slender, tan-silken ankle that he could have
destroyed with one crunch.
One friend Michael made among the many animals he encountered in
the Cedarwild School, and a strange, sad friendship it was. Sara
she was called, a small, green monkey from South America, who
seemed to have been born hysterical and indignant, and with no
appreciation of humour. Sometimes, following Collins about the
arena, Michael would meet her while she waited to be tried out on
some new turn. For, unable or unwilling to try, she was for ever
being tried out on turns, or, with little herself to do, as a
filler-in for more important performers.
But she always caused confusion, either chattering and squealing
with fright or bickering at the other animals. Whenever they
attempted to make her do anything, she protested indignantly; and
if they tried force, her squalls and cries excited all the animals
in the arena and set the work back.
"Never mind," said Collins finally. "She'll go into the next
monkey band we make up."
This was the last and most horrible fate that could befall a
monkey on the stage, to be a helpless marionette, compelled by
unseen sticks and wires, poked and jerked by concealed men, to
move and act throughout an entire turn.
But it was before this doom was passed upon her that Michael made
her acquaintance. Their first meeting, she sprang suddenly at
him, a screaming, chattering little demon, threatening him with
nails and teeth. And Michael, already deep-sunk in habitual
moroseness merely looked at her calmly, not a ripple to his neck-
hair nor a prick to his ears. The next moment, her fuss and fury
quite ignored, she saw him turn his head away. This gave her
pause. Had he sprung at her, or snarled, or shown any anger or
resentment such as did the other dogs when so treated by her, she
would have screamed and screeched and raised a hubbub of
expostulation, crying for help and calling all men to witness how
she was being unwarrantably attacked.
As it was, Michael's unusual behaviour seemed to fascinate her.
She approached him tentatively, without further racket; and the
boy who had her in charge slacked the thin chain that held her.
"Hope he breaks her back for her," was his unholy wish; for he
hated Sara intensely, desiring to be with the lions or elephants
rather than dancing attendance on a cantankerous female monkey
there was no reasoning with.
And because Michael took no notice of her, she made up to him. It
was not long before she had her hands on him, and, quickly after
that, an arm around his neck and her head snuggled against his.
Then began her interminable tale. Day after day, catching him at
odd times in the ring, she would cling closely to him and in a low
voice, running on and on, never pausing for breath, tell him, for
all he knew, the story of her life. At any rate, it sounded like
the story of her woes and of all the indignities which had been
wreaked upon her. It was one long complaint, and some of it might
have been about her health, for she sniffed and coughed a great
deal and her chest seemed always to hurt her from the way she had
of continually and gingerly pressing the palm of her hand to it.
Sometimes, however, she would cease her complaining, and love and
mother him, uttering occasional series of gentle mellow sounds
that were like croonings.
Hers was the only hand of affection that was laid on him at
Cedarwild, and she was ever gentle, never pinching him, never
pulling his ears. By the same token, he was the only friend she
had; and he came to look forward to meeting her in the course of
the morning work--and this, despite that every meeting always
concluded in a scene, when she fought with her keeper against
being taken away. Her cries and protests would give way to
whimperings and wailings, while the men about laughed at the
strangeness of the love-affair between her and the Irish terrier.
But Harris Collins tolerated, even encouraged, their friendship.
"The two sour-balls get along best together," he said. "And it
does them good. Gives them something to live for, and that way
lies health. But some day, mark my words, she'll turn on him and
give him what for, and their friendship will get a terrible
And half of it he spoke with the voice of prophecy, and, though
she never turned on Michael, the day in the world was written when
their friendship would truly receive a terrible smash.
"Now seals are too wise," Collins explained one day, in a sort of
extempore lecture to several of his apprentice trainers. "You've
just got to toss fish to them when they perform. If you don't,
they won't, and there's an end of it. But you can't depend on
feeding dainties to dogs, for instance, though you can make a
young, untrained pig perform creditably by means of a nursing
bottle hidden up your sleeve."
"All you have to do is think it over. Do you think you can make
those greyhounds extend themselves with the promise of a bite of
meat? It's the whip that makes them extend.--Look over there at
Billy Green. There ain't another way to teach that dog that
trick. You can't love her into doing it. You can't pay her to do
it. There's only one way, and that's MAKE her."
Billy Green, at the moment, was training a tiny, nondescript,
frizzly-haired dog. Always, on the stage, he made a hit by
drawing from his pocket a tiny dog that would do this particular
trick. The last one had died from a wrenched back, and he was now
breaking in a new one. He was catching the little mite by the
hind-legs and tossing it up in the air, where, making a half-flip
and descending head first, it was supposed to alight with its
fore-feet on his hand and there balance itself, its hind feet and
body above it in the air. Again and again he stooped, caught her
hind-legs and flung her up into the half-turn. Almost frozen with
fear, she vainly strove to effect the trick. Time after time, and
every time, she failed to make the balance. Sometimes she fell
crumpled; several times she all but struck the ground: and once,
she did strike, on her side and so hard as to knock the breath out
of her. Her master, taking advantage of the moment to wipe the
sweat from his streaming face, nudged her about with his toe till
she staggered weakly to her feet.
"The dog was never born that'd learn that trick for the promise of
a bit of meat," Collins went on. "Any more than was the dog ever
born that'd walk on its fore-legs without having its hind-legs
rapped up in the air with the stick a thousand times. Yet you
take that trick there. It's always a winner, especially with the
women--so cunning, you know, so adorable cute, to be yanked out of
its beloved master's pocket and to have such trust and confidence
in him as to allow herself to be tossed around that way. Trust
and confidence hell! He's put the fear of God into her, that's
"Just the same, to dig a dainty out of your pocket once in a while
and give an animal a nibble, always makes a hit with the audience.
That's about all it's good for, yet it's a good stunt. Audiences
like to believe that the animals enjoy doing their tricks, and
that they are treated like pampered darlings, and that they just
love their masters to death. But God help all of us and our meal
tickets if the audiences could see behind the scenes. Every
trained-animal turn would be taken off the stage instanter, and
we'd be all hunting for a job."
"Yes, and there's rough stuff no end pulled off on the stage right
before the audience's eyes. The best fooler I ever saw was
Lottie's. She had a bunch of trained cats. She loved them to
death right before everybody, especially if a trick wasn't going
good. What'd she do? She'd take that cat right up in her arms
and kiss it. And when she put it down it'd perform the trick all
right all right, while the audience applauded its silly head off
for the kindness and humaneness she'd shown. Kiss it? Did she?
I'll tell you what she did. She bit its nose."
"Eleanor Pavalo learned the trick from Lottie, and used it herself
on her toy dogs. And many a dog works on the stage in a spiked
collar, and a clever man can twist a dog's nose and nobody in the
audience any the wiser. But it's the fear that counts. It's what
the dog knows he'll get afterward when the turn's over that keeps
most of them straight."
"Remember Captain Roberts and his great Danes. They weren't pure-
breds, though. He must have had a dozen of them--toughest bunch
of brutes I ever saw. He boarded them here twice. You couldn't
go among them without a club in your hand. I had a Mexican lad
laid up by them. He was a tough one, too. But they got him down
and nearly ate him. The doctors took over forty stitches in him
and shot him full of that Pasteur dope for hydrophobia. And he
always will limp with his right leg from what the dogs did to him.
I tell you, they were the limit. And yet, every time the curtain
went up, Captain Roberts brought the house down with the first
stunt. Those dogs just flocked all over him, loving him to death,
from the looks of it. And were they loving him? They hated him.
I've seen him, right here in the cage at Cedarwild, wade into them
with a club and whale the stuffing impartially out of all of them.
Sure, they loved him not. Just a bit of the same old aniseed was
what he used. He'd soak small pieces of meat in aniseed oil and
stick them in his pockets. But that stunt would only work with a
bunch of giant dogs like his. It was their size that got it
across. Had they been a lot of ordinary dogs it would have looked
silly. And, besides, they didn't do their regular tricks for
aniseed. They did it for Captain Roberts's club. He was a tough
"He used to say that the art of training animals was the art of
inspiring them with fear. One of his assistants told me a nasty
one about him afterwards. They had an off month in Los Angeles,
and Captain Roberts got it into his head he was going to make a
dog balance a silver dollar on the neck of a champagne bottle.
Now just think that over and try to see yourself loving a dog into
doing it. The assistant said he wore out about as many sticks as
dogs, and that he wore out half a dozen dogs. He used to get them
from the public pound at two and a half apiece, and every time one
died he had another ready and waiting. And he succeeded with the
seventh dog. I'm telling you, it learned to balance a dollar on
the neck of a bottle. And it died from the effects of the
learning within a week after he put it on the stage. Abscesses in
the lungs, from the stick."
"There was an Englishman came over when I was a youngster. He had
ponies, monkeys, and dogs. He bit the monkey's ears, so that, on
the stage, all he had to do was to make a move as if he was going
to bite and they'd quit their fooling and be good. He had a big
chimpanzee that was a winner. It could turn four somersaults as
fast as you could count on the back of a galloping pony, and he
used to have to give it a real licking about twice a week. And
sometimes the lickings were too stiff, and the monkey'd get sick
and have to lay off. But the owner solved the problem. He got to
giving him a little licking, a mere taste of the stick, regular,
just before the turn came on. And that did it in his case, though
with some other case the monkey most likely would have got sullen
and not acted at all."
It was on that day that Harris Collins sold a valuable bit of
information to a lion man who needed it. It was off time for him,
and his three lions were boarding at Cedarwild. Their turn was an
exciting and even terrifying one, when viewed from the audience;
for, jumping about and roaring, they were made to appear as if
about to destroy the slender little lady who performed with them
and seemed to hold them in subjection only by her indomitable
courage and a small riding-switch in her hand.
"The trouble is they're getting too used to it," the man
complained. "Isadora can't prod them up any more. They just
won't make a showing."
"I know them," Collins nodded. "They're pretty old now, and
they're spirit-broken besides. Take old Sark there. He's had so
many blank cartridges fired into his ears that he's stone deaf.
And Selim--he lost his heart with his teeth. A Portuguese fellow
who was handling him for the Barnum and Bailey show did that for
him. You've heard?"
"I've often wondered," the man shook his head. "It must have been
"It was. The Portuguese did it with an iron bar. Selim was sulky
and took a swipe at him with his paw, and he whopped it to him
full in the mouth just as he opened it to let out a roar. He told
me about it himself. Said Selim's teeth rattled on the floor like
dominoes. But he shouldn't have done it. It was destroying
valuable property. Anyway, they fired him for it."
"Well, all three of them ain't worth much to me now," said their
owner. "They won't play up to Isadora in that roaring and
rampaging at the end. It really made the turn. It was our
finale, and we always got a great hand for it. Say, what am I
going to do about it anyway? Ditch it? Or get some young lions?"
"Isadora would be safer with the old ones," Collins said.
"Too safe," Isadora's husband objected. "Of course, with younger
lions, the work and responsibility piles up on me. But we've got
to make our living, and this turn's about busted."
Harris Collins shook his head.
"What d'ye mean?--what's the idea?" the man demanded eagerly.
"They'll live for years yet, seeing how captivity has agreed with
them," Collins elucidated. "If you invest in young lions you run
the risk of having them pass out on you. And you can go right on
pulling the trick off with what you've got. All you've got to do
is to take my advice . . . "
The master-trainer paused, and the lion man opened his mouth to
"Which will cost you," Collins went on deliberately, "say three
"Just for some advice?" the other asked quickly.
"Which I guarantee will work. What would you have to pay for
three new lions? Here's where you make money at three hundred.
And it's the simplest of advice. I can tell it to you in three
words, which is at the rate of a hundred dollars a word, and one
of the words is 'the.'"
"Too steep for me," the other objected. "I've got a make a
"So have I," Collins assured him. "That's why I'm here. I'm a
specialist, and you're paying a specialist's fee. You'll be as
mad as a hornet when I tell you, it's that simple; and for the
life of me I can't understand why you don't already know it."
"And if it don't work?" was the dubious query.
"If it don't work, you don't pay."
"Well, shoot it along," the lion man surrendered.
"WIRE THE CAGE," said Collins.
At first the man could not comprehend; then the light began to
break on him.
"You mean . . . ?"
"Just that," Collins nodded. "And nobody need be the wiser. Dry
batteries will do it beautifully. You can install them nicely
under the cage floor. All Isadora has to do when she's ready is
to step on the button; and when the electricity shoots through
their feet, if they don't go up in the air and rampage and roar
around to beat the band, not only can you keep the three hundred,
but I'll give you three hundred more. I know. I've seen it done,
and it never misses fire. It's just as though they were dancing
on a red-hot stove. Up they go, and every time they come down
they burn their feet again.
"But you'll have to put the juice into them slowly," Collins
warned. "I'll show you how to do the wiring. Just a weak battery
first, so as they can work up to it, and then stronger and
stronger to the curtain. And they never get used to it. As long
as they live they'll dance just as lively as the first time. What
do you think of it?"
"It's worth three hundred all right," the man admitted. "I wish I
could make my money that easy."
"Guess I'll have to wash my hands of him," Collins told Johnny.
"I know Del Mar must have been right when he said he was the
limit, but I can't get a clue to it."
This followed upon a fight between Michael and Collins. Michael,
more morose than ever, had become even crusty-tempered, and,
scarcely with provocation at all, had attacked the man he hated,
failing, as ever, to put his teeth into him, and receiving, in
turn, a couple of smashing kicks under his jaw.
"He's like a gold-mine all right all right," Collins meditated,
"but I'm hanged if I can crack it, and he's getting grouchier
every day. Look at him. What'd he want to jump me for? I wasn't
rough with him. He's piling up a sour-ball that'll make him fight
a policeman some day."
A few minutes later, one of his patrons, a tow-headed young man
who was boarding and rehearsing three performing leopards at
Cedarwild, was asking Collins for the loan of an Airedale.
"I've only got one left now," he explained, "and I ain't safe
"What's happened to the other one?" the master-trainer queried.
"Alphonso--that's the big buck leopard--got nasty this morning and
settled his hash. I had to put him out of his misery. He was
gutted like a horse in the bull-ring. But he saved me all right.
If it hadn't been for him I'd have got a mauling. Alphonso gets
these bad streaks just about every so often. That's the second
dog he's killed for me."
Collins shook his head.
"Haven't got an Airedale," he said, and just then his eyes chanced
to fall on Michael. "Try out the Irish terrier," he suggested.
"They're like the Airedale in disposition. Pretty close cousins,
at any rate."
"I pin my faith on the Airedale when it comes to lion dogs," the
leopard man demurred.
"So's an Irish terrier a lion dog. Take that one there. Look at
the size and weight of him. Also, take it from me, he's all
spunk. He'll stand up to anything. Try him out. I'll lend him
to you. If he makes good I'll sell him to you cheap. An Irish
terrier for a leopard dog will be a novelty."
"If he gets fresh with them cats he'll find his finish," Johnny
told Collins, as Michael was led away by the leopard man.
"Then, maybe, the stage will lose a star," Collins answered, with
a shrug of shoulders. "But I'll have him off my chest anyway.
When a dog gets a perpetual sour-ball like that he's finished.
Never can do a thing with them. I've had them on my hands
And Michael went to make the acquaintance of Jack, the surviving
Airedale, and to do his daily turn with the leopards. In the big
spotted cats he recognized the hereditary enemy, and, even before
he was thrust into the cage, his neck was all a-prickle as the
skin nervously tightened and the hair uprose stiff-ended. It was
a nervous moment for all concerned, the introduction of a new dog
into the cage. The tow-headed leopard man, who was billed on the
boards as Raoul Castlemon and was called Ralph by his intimates,
was already in the cage. The Airedale was with him, while outside
stood several men armed with iron bars and long steel forks.
These weapons, ready for immediate use, were thrust between the
bars as a menace to the leopards who were, very much against their
wills, to be made to perform.
They resented Michael's intrusion on the instant, spitting,
lashing their long tails, and crouching to spring. At the same
instant the trainer spoke with sharp imperativeness and raised his
whip, while the men on the outside lifted their irons and advanced
them intimidatingly into the cage. And the leopards, bitter-wise
of the taste of the iron, remained crouched, although they still
spat and whipped their tails angrily.
Michael was no coward. He did not slink behind the man for
protection. On the other hand, he was too sensible to rush to
attack such formidable creatures. What he did do, with bristling
neck-hair, was to stalk stiff-leggedly across the cage, turn about
with his face toward the danger, and stalk stiffly back, coming to
a pause alongside of Jack, who gave him a good-natured sniff of
"He's the stuff," the trainer muttered in a curiously tense voice.
"They don't get his goat."
The situation was deservedly tense, and Ralph developed it with
cautious care, making no abrupt movements, his eyes playing
everywhere over dogs and leopards and the men outside with the
prods and bars. He made the savage cats come out of their crouch
and separate from one another. At his word of command, Jack
walked about among them. Michael, on his own initiative,
followed. And, like Jack, he walked very stiffly on his guard and
One of them, Alphonso, spat suddenly at him. He did not startle,
though his hair rippled erect and he bared his fangs in a silent
snarl. At the same moment the nearest iron bar was shoved in
threateningly close to Alphonso, who shifted his yellow eyes from
Michael to the bar and back again and did not strike out.
The first day was the hardest. After that the leopards accepted
Michael as they accepted Jack. No love was lost on either side,
nor were friendly overtures ever offered. Michael was quick to
realize that it was the men and dogs against the cats and that the
men and does must stand together. Each day he spent from an hour
to two hours in the cage, watching the rehearsing, with nothing
for him and Jack to do save stand vigilantly on guard. Sometimes,
when the leopards seemed better natured, Ralph even encouraged the
two dogs to lie down. But, on bad mornings, he saw to it that
they were ever ready to spring in between him and any possible
For the rest of the time Michael shared his large pen with Jack.
They were well cared for, as were all animals at Cedarwild,
receiving frequent scrubbings and being kept clean of vermin. For
a dog only three years old, Jack was very sedate. Either he had
never learned to play or had already forgotten how. On the other
hand, he was sweet-tempered and equable, and he did not resent the
early shows of crustiness which Michael made. And Michael quickly
ceased from being crusty and took pleasure in their quiet
companionship. There were no demonstrations. They were content
to lie awake by the hour, merely pleasantly aware of each other's
Occasionally, Michael could hear Sara making a distant scene or
sending out calls which he knew were for him. Once she got away
from her keeper and located Michael coming out of the leopard
cage. With a shrill squeal of joy she was upon him, clinging to
him and chattering the hysterical tale of all her woes since they
had been parted. The leopard man looked on tolerantly and let her
have her few minutes. It was her keeper who tore her away in the
end, cling as she would to Michael, screaming all the while like a
harridan. When her hold was broken, she sprang at the man in a
fury, and, before he could throttle her to subjection, sank her
teeth into his thumb and wrist. All of which was provocative of
great hilarity to the onlookers, while her squalls and cries
excited the leopards to spitting and leaping against their bars.
And, as she was borne away, she set up a soft wailing like that of
a heart-broken child.
Although Michael proved a success with the leopards, Raoul
Castlemon never bought him from Collins. One morning, several
days later, the arena was vexed by uproar and commotion from the
animal cages. The excitement, starting with revolver shots, was
communicated everywhere. The various lions raised a great
roaring, and the many dogs barked frantically. All tricks in the
arena stopped, the animals temporarily unstrung and unable to
continue. Several men, among them Collins, ran in the direction
of the cages. Sara's keeper dropped her chain in order to follow.
"It's Alphonso--shillings to pence it is," Collins called to one
of his assistants who was running beside him. "He'll get Ralph
The affair was all but over and leaping to its culmination when
Collins arrived. Castlemon was just being dragged out, and as
Collins ran he could see the two men drop him to the ground so
that they might slam the cage-door shut. Inside, in so wildly
struggling a tangle on the floor that it was difficult to discern
what animals composed it, were Alphonso, Jack, and Michael looked
together. Men danced about outside, thrusting in with iron bars
and trying to separate them. In the far end of the cage were the
other two leopards, nursing their wounds and snarling and striking
at the iron rods that kept them out of the combat.
Sara's arrival and what followed was a matter of seconds.
Trailing her chain behind her, the little green monkey, the tailed
female who knew love and hysteria and was remote cousin to human
women, flashed up to the narrow cage-bars and squeezed through.
Simultaneously the tangle underwent a violent upheaval. Flung out
with such force as to be smashed against the near end of the cage,
Michael fell to the floor, tried to spring up, but crumpled and
sank down, his right shoulder streaming blood from a terrible
mauling and crushing. To him Sara leaped, throwing her arms
around him and mothering him up to her flat little hairy breast.
She uttered solicitous cries, and, as Michael strove to rise on
his ruined foreleg, scolded him with sharp gentleness and with her
arms tried to hold him away from the battle. Also, in an
interval, her eyes malevolent in her rage, she chattered piercing
curses at Alphonso.
A crowbar, shoved into his side, distracted the big leopard. He
struck at the weapon with his paw, and, when it was poked into him
again, flung himself upon it, biting the naked iron with his
teeth. With a second fling he was against the cage bars, with a
single slash of paw ripping down the forearm of the man who had
poked him. The crowbar was dropped as the man leaped away.
Alphonso flung back on Jack, a sorry antagonist by this time, who
could only pant and quiver where he lay in the welter of what was
left of him.
Michael had managed to get up on his three legs and was striving
to stumble forward against the restraining arms of Sara. The mad
leopard was on the verge of springing upon them when deflected by
another prod of the iron. This time he went straight at the man,
fetching up against the cage-bars with such fierceness as to shake
More men began thrusting with more rods, but Alphonso was not to
be balked. Sara saw him coming and screamed her shrillest and
savagest at him. Collins snatched a revolver from one of the men.
"Don't kill him!" Castlemon cried, seizing Collins's arm.
The leopard man was in a bad way himself. One arm dangled
helplessly at his side, while his eyes, filling with blood from a
scalp wound, he wiped on the master-trainer's shoulder so that he
"He's my property," he protested. "And he's worth a hundred sick
monkeys and sour-balled terriers. Anyway, we'll get them out all
right. Give me a chance.--Somebody mop my eyes out, please. I
can't see. I've used up my blank cartridges. Has anybody any
One moment Sara would interpose her body between Michael and the
leopard, which was still being delayed by the prodding irons; and
the next moment she would turn to screech at the fanged cat is if
by very advertisement of her malignancy she might intimidate him
into keeping back.
Michael, dragging her with him, growling and bristling, staggered
forward a couple of three-legged steps, gave at the ruined
shoulder, and collapsed. And then Sara did the great deed. With
one last scream of utmost fury, she sprang full into the face of
the monstrous cat, tearing and scratching with hands and feet, her
mouth buried into the roots of one of its stubby ears. The
astounded leopard upreared, with his fore-paws striking and
ripping at the little demon that would not let go.
The fight and the life in the little green monkey lasted a short
ten seconds. But this was sufficient for Collins to get the door
ajar and with a quick clutch on Michael's hind-leg jerk him out
and to the ground.
No rough-and-ready surgery of the Del Mar sort obtained at
Cedarwild, else Michael would not have lived. A real surgeon,
skilful and audacious, came very close to vivisecting him as he
radically repaired the ruin of a shoulder, doing things he would
not have dared with a human but which proved to be correct for
"He'll always be lame," the surgeon said, wiping his hands and
gazing down at Michael, who lay, for the most part of him, a
motionless prisoner set in plaster of Paris. "All the healing,
and there's plenty of it, will have to be by first intention. If
his temperature shoots up we'll have to put him out of his misery.
What's he worth?"
"He has no tricks," Collins answered. "Possibly fifty dollars,
and certainly not that now. Lame dogs are not worth teaching
Time was to prove both men wrong. Michael was not destined to
permanent lameness, although in after-years his shoulder was
always tender, and, on occasion, when the weather was damp, he was
compelled to ease it with a slight limp. On the other hand, he
was destined to appreciate to a great price and to become the star
performer Harry Del Mar had predicted of him.
In the meantime he lay for many weary days in the plaster and
abstained from raising a dangerous temperature. The care taken of
him was excellent. But not out of love and affection was it
given. It was merely a part of the system at Cedarwild which made
the institution such a success. When he was taken out of the
plaster, he was still denied that instinctive pleasure which all
animals take in licking their wounds, for shrewdly arranged
bandages were wrapped and buckled on him. And when they were
finally removed, there were no wounds to lick; though deep in the
shoulder was a pain that required months in which to die out.
Harris Collins bothered him no more with trying to teach him
tricks, and, one day, loaned him as a filler-in to a man and woman
who had lost three of their dog-troupe by pneumonia.
"If he makes out you can have him for twenty dollars," Collins
told the man, Wilton Davis.
"And if he croaks?" Davis queried.
Collins shrugged his shoulders. "I won't sit up nights worrying
about him. He's unteachable."
And when Michael departed from Cedarwild in a crate on an express
wagon, he might well have never returned, for Wilton Davis was
notorious among trained-animal men for his cruelty to dogs. Some
care he might take of a particular dog with a particularly
valuable trick, but mere fillers-in came too cheaply. They cost
from three to five dollars apiece. Worse than that, so far as he
was concerned, Michael had cost nothing. And if he died it meant
nothing to Davis except the trouble of finding another dog.
The first stage of Michael's new adventure involved no unusual
hardship, despite the fact that he was so cramped in his crate
that he could not stand up and that the jolting and handling of
the crate sent countless twinges of pain shooting through his
shoulder. The journey was only to Brooklyn, where he was duly
delivered to a second-rate theatre, Wilton Davis being so
indifferent a second-rate animal man that he could never succeed
in getting time with the big circuits.
The hardship of the cramped crate began after Michael had been
carried into a big room above the stage and deposited with nearly
a score of similarly crated dogs. A sorry lot they were, all of
them scrubs and most of them spirit-broken and miserable. Several
had bad sores on their heads from being knocked about by Davis.
No care was taken of these sores, and they were not improved by
the whitening that was put on them for concealment whenever they
performed. Some of them howled lamentably at times, and every
little while, as if it were all that remained for them to do in
their narrow cells, all of them would break out into barking.
Michael was the only one who did not join in these choruses. Long
since, as one feature of his developing moroseness, he had ceased
from barking. He had become too unsociable for any such
demonstrations; nor did he pattern after the example of some of
the sourer-tempered dogs in the room, who were for ever bickering
and snarling through the slats of their cages. In fact, Michael's
sourness of temper had become too profound even for quarrelling.
All he desired was to be let alone, and of this he had a surfeit
for the first forty-eight hours.
Wilton Davis had assembled his troupe ahead of time, so that the
change of programme was five days away. Having taken advantage of
this to go to see his wife's people over in New Jersey, he had
hired one of the stage-hands to feed and water his dogs. This the
stage-hand would have done, had he not had the misfortune to get
into an altercation with a barkeeper which culminated in a
fractured skull and an ambulance ride to the receiving hospital.
To make the situation perfect for what followed, the theatre was
closed for three days in order to make certain alterations
demanded by the Fire Commissioners.
No one came near the room, and after several hours Michael grew
aware of hunger and thirst. The time passed, and the desire for
food was supplanted by the desire for water. By nightfall the
barking and yelping became continuous, changing through the long
night hours to whimpering and whining. Michael alone made no
sound, suffering dumbly in the bedlam of misery.
Morning of the second day dawned; the slow hours dragged by to the
second night; and the darkness of the second night drew down upon
a scene behind the scenes, sufficient of itself to condemn all
trained-animal acts in all theatres and show-tents of all the
world. Whether Michael dreamed or was in semi-delirium, there is
no telling; but, whichever it was, he lived most of his past life
over again. Again he played as a puppy on the broad verandas of
MISTER Haggin's plantation bungalow at Meringe; or, with Jerry,
stalked the edges of the jungle down by the river-bank to spy upon
the crocodiles; or, learning from MISTER Haggin and Bob, and
patterning after Biddy and Terrence, to consider black men as
lesser and despised gods who must for ever be kept strictly in
On the schooner Eugenie he sailed with Captain Kellar, his second
master, and on the beach at Tulagi lost his heart to Steward of
the magic fingers and sailed away with him and Kwaque on the
steamer Makambo. Steward was most in his visions, against a hazy
background of vessels, and of individuals like the Ancient
Mariner, Simon Nishikanta, Grimshaw, Captain Doane, and little old
Ah Moy. Nor least of all did Scraps appear, and Cocky, the
valiant-hearted little fluff of life gallantly bearing himself
through his brief adventure in the sun. And it would seem to
Michael that on one side, clinging to him, Cocky talked farrago in
his ear, and on the other side Sara clung to him and chattered an
interminable and incommunicable tale. And then, deep about the
roots of his ears would seem to prod the magic, caressing fingers
of Steward the beloved.
"I just don't I have no luck," Wilton Davis mourned, gazing about
at his dogs, the air still vibrating with the string of oaths he
had at first ripped out.
"That comes of trusting a drunken stage-hand," his wife remarked
placidly. "I wouldn't be surprised if half of them died on us
"Well, this is no time for talk," Davis snarled, proceeding to
take off his coat. "Get busy, my love, and learn the worst.
Water's what they need. I'll give them a tub of it."
Bucketful by bucketful, from the tap at the sink in the corner, he
filled a large galvanized-iron tub. At sound of the running water
the dogs began whimpering and yelping and moaning. Some tried to
lick his hands with their swollen tongues as he dragged them
roughly out of their cages. The weaker ones crawled and bellied
toward the tub, and were over-trod by the stronger ones. There
was not room for all, and the stronger ones drank first, with much
fighting and squabbling and slashing of fangs. Into the foremost
of this was Michael, slashing and being slashed, but managing to
get hasty gulps of the life-saving fluid. Davis danced about
among them, kicking right and left, so that all might have a
chance. His wife took a hand, laying about her with a mop. It
was a pandemonium of pain, for, their parched throats softened by
the water, they were again able to yelp and cry out loudly all
their hurt and woe.
Several were too weak to get to the water, so it was carried to
them and doused and splashed into their mouths. It seemed that
they would never be satisfied. They lay in collapse all about the
room, but every little while one or another would crawl over to
the tub and try to drink more. In the meantime Davis had started
a fire and filled a caldron with potatoes.
"The place stinks like a den of skunks," Mrs. Davis observed,
pausing from dabbing the end of her nose with a powder-puff.
"Dearest, we'll just have to wash them."
"All right, sweetheart," her husband agreed. "And the quicker the
better. We can get through with it while the potatoes are boiling
and cooling. I'll scrub them and you dry them. Remember that
pneumonia, and do it thoroughly."
It was quick, rough bathing. Reaching out for the dogs nearest
him, he flung them in turn into the tub from which they had drunk.
When they were frightened, or when they objected in any way, he
rapped them on the head with the scrubbing brush or the bar of
yellow laundry soap with which he was lathering them. Several
minutes sufficed for a dog.
"Drink, damn you, drink--have some more," he would say, as he
shoved their heads down and under the dirty, soapy water.
He seemed to hold them responsible for their horrible condition,
to look upon their filthiness as a personal affront.
Michael yielded to being flung into the tub. He recognized that
baths were necessary and compulsory, although they were
administered in much better fashion at Cedarwild, while Kwaque and
Steward had made a sort of love function of it when they bathed
him. So he did his best to endure the scrubbing, and all might
have been well had not Davis soused him under. Michael jerked his
head up with a warning growl. Davis suspended half-way the blow
he was delivering with the heavy brush, and emitted a low whistle
"Hello!" he said. "And look who's here!--Lovey, this is the Irish
terrier I got from Collins. He's no good. Collins said so. Just
a fill-in.--Get out!" he commanded Michael. "That's all you get
now, Mr. Fresh Dog. But take it from me pretty soon you'll be
getting it fast enough to make you dizzy."
While the potatoes were cooling, Mrs. Davis kept the hungry dogs
warned away by sharp cries. Michael lay down sullenly to one
side, and took no part in the rush for the trough when permission
was given. Again Davis danced among them, kicking away the
stronger and the more eager.
"If they get to fighting after all we've done for them, kick in
their ribs, lovey," he told his wife.
"There! You would, would you?"--this to a large black dog,
accompanied by a savage kick in the side. The animal yelped its
pain as it fled away, and, from a safe distance, looked on
piteously at the steaming food.
"Well, after this they can't say I don't never give my dogs a
bath," Davis remarked from the sink, where he was rinsing his
arms. What d'ye say we call it a day's work, my dear?" Mrs.
Davis nodded agreement. "We can rehearse them to-morrow and next
day. That will be plenty of time. I'll run in to-night and boil
them some bran. They'll need an extra meal after fasting two
The potatoes finished, the dogs were put back in their cages for
another twenty-four hours of close confinement. Water was poured
into their drinking-tins, and, in the evening, still in their
cages, they were served liberally with boiled bran and dog-
biscuit. This was Michael's first food, for he had sulkily
refused to go near the potatoes.
The rehearsing took place on the stage, and for Michael trouble
came at the very start. The drop-curtain was supposed to go up
and reveal the twenty dogs seated on chairs in a semi-circle.
Because, while they were being thus arranged, the preceding turn
was taking place in front of the drop-curtain, it was imperative
that rigid silence should be kept. Next, when the curtain rose on
full stage, the dogs were trained to make a great barking.
As a filler-in, Michael had nothing to do but sit on a chair. But
he had to get upon the chair, first, and when Davis so ordered him
he accompanied the order with a clout on the side of the head.
Michael growled warningly.
"Oh, ho, eh?" the man sneered. "It's Fresh Dog looking for
trouble. Well, you might as well get it over with now so your
name can be changed to Good Dog.--My dear, just keep the rest of
them in order while I teach Fresh Dog lesson number one."
Of the beating that followed, the least said the better. Michael
put up a fight that was hopeless, and was thoroughly beaten in
return. Bruised and bleeding, he sat on the chair, taking no part
in the performance and only sullenly engendering a deeper and
bitterer sourness. To keep silent before the curtain went up was
no hardship for him. But when the curtain did go up, he declined
to join the rest of the dogs in their frantic barking and yelping.
The dogs, sometimes alone and sometimes in couples and trios and
groups, left their chairs at command and performed the
conventional dog tricks such as walking on hind-legs, hopping,
limping, waltzing, and throwing somersaults. Wilton Davis's
temper was short and his hand heavy throughout the rehearsal, as
the shrill yelps of pain from the lagging and stupid attested.
In all, during that day and the forenoon of the next, three long
rehearsals took place. Michael's troubles ceased for the time
being. At command, he silently got on the chair and silently sat
there. "Which shows, dearest, what a bit of the stick will do,"
Davis bragged to his wife. Nor did the pair of them dream of the
scandalizing part Michael was going to play in their first
Behind the curtain all was ready on the full stage. The dogs sat
on their chairs in abject silence with Davis and his wife menacing
them to remain silent, while, in front of the curtain, Dick and
Daisy Bell delighted the matinee audience with their singing and
dancing. And all went well, and no one in the audience would have
suspected the full stage of dogs behind the curtain had not Dick
and Daisy, accompanied by the orchestra, begun to sing "Roll Me
Down to Rio."
Michael could not help it. Even as Kwaque had long before
mastered him by the jews' harp, and Steward by love, and Harry Del
Mar by the harmonica, so now was he mastered by the strains of the
orchestra and the voices of the man and woman lifting the old
familiar rhythm, taught him by Steward, of "Roll Me Down to Rio."
Despite himself, despite his sullenness, the forces compulsive
opened his jaws and set all his throat vibrating in accompaniment.
From beyond the curtain came a titter of children and women that
grew into a roar and drowned out the voices of Dick and Daisy.
Wilton Davis cursed unbelievably as he sprang down the stage to
Michael. But Michael howled on, and the audience laughed on.
Michael was still howling when the short club smote him. The
shock and hurt of it made him break off and yelp an involuntary
cry of pain.
"Knock his block off, dearest," Mrs. Davis counselled.
And then ensued battle royal. Davis struck shrewd blows that
could be heard, as were heard the snarls and growls of Michael.
The audience, under the sway of the comic, ignored Dick and Daisy
Bell. Their turn was spoiled. The Davis turn was "queered," as
Wilton impressed it. Michael's block was knocked off within the
meaning of the term. And the audience, on the other side of the
curtain, was edified and delighted.
Dick and Daisy could not continue. The audience wanted what was
behind the curtain, not in front of it. Michael was taken off
stage thoroughly throttled by one of the stage-hands, and the
curtain arose on the full set--full, save for the one empty chair.
The boys in the audience first realized the connection between the
empty chair and the previous uproar, and began clamouring for the
absent dog. The audience took up the cry, the dogs barked more
excitedly, and five minutes of hilarity delayed the turn which,
when at last started, was marked by rustiness and erraticness on
the part of the dogs and by great peevishness on the part of
"Never mind, honey," his imperturbable wife assured him in a stage
whisper. "We'll just ditch that dog and get a regular one. And,
anyway, we've put one over on that Daisy Bell. I ain't told you
yet what she said about me, only last week, to some of my
Several minutes later, still on the stage and handling his
animals, the husband managed a chance to mutter to his wife:
"It's the dog. It's him I'm after. I'm going to lay him out."
"Yes, dearest," she agreed.
The curtain down, with a gleeful audience in front and with the
dogs back in the room over the stage, Wilton Davis descended to
look for Michael, who, instead of cowering in some corner, stood
between the legs of the stage-hand, quivering yet from his
mishandling and threatening to fight as hard as ever if attacked.
On his way, Davis encountered the song-and-dance couple. The
woman was in a tearful rage, the man in a dry one.
"You're a peach of a dog man, you are," he announced
belligerently. "Here's where you get yours."
"You keep away from me, or I'll lay you out," Wilton Davis
responded desperately, brandishing a short iron bar in his right
hand. "Besides, you just wait if you want to, and I'll lay you
out afterward. But first of all I'm going to lay out that dog.
Come on along and see--damn him! How was I to know? He was a new
one. He never peeped in rehearsal. How was I to know he was
going to yap when we arranged the set behind you?"
"You've raised hell," the manager of the theatre greeted Davis, as
the latter, trailed by Dick Bell, came upon Michael bristling from
between the legs of the stage-hand.
"Nothing to what I'm going to raise," Davis retorted, shortening
his grip on the iron bar and raising it. "I'm going to kill 'm.
I'm going to beat the life out of him. You just watch."
Michael snarled acknowledgment of the threat, crouched to spring,
and kept his eyes on the iron weapon.
"I just guess you ain't goin' to do anything of the sort," the
stage-hand assured Davis.
"It's my property," the latter asserted with an air of legal
"And against it I'm goin' to stack up my common sense," was the
stage-hand's reply. "You tap him once, and see what you'll get.
Dogs is dogs, and men is men, but I'm damned if I know what you
are. You can't pull off rough stuff on that dog. First time he
was on a stage in his life, after being starved and thirsted for
two days. Oh, I know, Mr. Manager."
"If you kill the dog it'll cost you a dollar to the garbage man to
get rid of the carcass," the manager took up.
"I'll pay it gladly," Davis said, again lifting the iron bar.
"I've got some come-back, ain't I?"
"You animal guys make me sick," the stage-hand uttered. "You just
make me draw the line somewheres. And here it is: you tap him
once with that baby crowbar, and I'll tap you hard enough to lose
me my job and to send you to hospital."
"Now look here, Jackson . . . " the manager began threateningly.
"You can't say nothin' to me," was the retort. "My mind's made
up. If that cheap guy lays a finger on that dog I'm just sure
goin' to lose my job. I'm gettin tired anyway of seein' these
skates beatin' up their animals. They've made me sick clean
The manager looked to Davis and shrugged his shoulders helplessly.
"There's no use pulling off a rough-house," he counselled. "I
don't want to lose Jackson and he'll put you into hospital if he
ever gets started. Send the dog back where you got him. Your
wife's told me about him. Stick him into a box and send him back
collect. Collins won't mind. He'll take the singing out of him
and work him into something."
Davis, with another glance at the truculent Jackson, wavered.
"I'll tell you what," the manager went on persuasively. "Jackson
will attend to the whole thing, box him up, ship him, everything--
won't you, Jackson?"
The stage-hand nodded curtly, then reached down and gently
caressed Michael's bruised head.
"Well," Davis gave in, turning on his heel, "they can make fools
of themselves over dogs, them that wants to. But when they've
been in the business as long as I have . . . "
A post card from Davis to Collins explained the reasons for
Michael's return. "He sings too much to suit my fancy," was
Davis's way of putting it, thereby unwittingly giving the clue to
what Collins had vainly sought, and which Collins as unwittingly
failed to grasp. As he told Johnny:
"From the looks of the beatings he's got no wonder he's been
singing. That's the trouble with these animal people. They don't
know how to take care of their property. They hammer its head off
and get grouched because it ain't an angel of obedience.--Put him
away, Johnny. Wash him clean, and put on the regular dressing
wherever the skin's broken. I give him up myself, but I'll find
some place for him in the next bunch of dogs."
Two weeks later, by sheerest accident, Harris Collins made the
discovery for himself of what Michael was good for. In a spare
moment in the arena, he had sent for him to be tried out by a dog
man who needed several fillers-in. Beyond what he knew, such as
at command to stand up, to lie down, to come here and go there,
Michael had done nothing. He had refused to learn the most
elementary things a show-dog should know, and Collins had left him
to go over to another part of the arena where a monkey band, on a
sort of mimic stage, was being arranged and broken in.
Frightened and mutinous, nevertheless the monkeys were compelled
to perform by being tied to their seats and instruments and by
being pulled and jerked from off stage by wires fastened to their
bodies. The leader of the orchestra, an irascible elderly monkey,
sat on a revolving stool to which he was securely attached. When
poked from off the stage by means of long poles, he flew into
ecstasies of rage. At the same time, by a rope arrangement, his
chair was whirled around and around. To an audience the effect
would be that he was angered by the blunders of his fellow-
musicians. And to an audience such anger would be highly
ludicrous. As Collins said:
"A monkey band is always a winner. It fetches the laugh, and the
money's in the laugh. Humans just have to laugh at monkeys
because they're so similar and because the human has the advantage
and feels himself superior. Suppose we're walking along the
street, you and me, and you slip and fall down. Of course I
laugh. That's because I'm superior to you. I didn't fall down.
Same thing if your hat blows off. I laugh while you chase it down
the street. I'm superior. My hat's still on my head. Same thing
with the monkey band. All the fool things of it make us feel so
superior. We don't see ourselves as foolish. That's why we pay
to see the monkeys behave foolish."
It was scarcely a matter of training the monkeys. Rather was it
the training of the men who operated the concealed mechanisms that
made the monkeys perform. To this Harris Collins was devoting his
"There isn't any reason why you fellows can't make them play a
real tune. It's up to you, just according to how you pull the
wires. Come on. It's worth going in for. Let's try something
you all know. And remember, the regular orchestra will always
help you out. Now, what do you all know? Something simple, and
something the audience'll know, too?"
He became absorbed in trying out the idea, and even borrowed a
circus rider whose act was to play the violin while standing on
the back of a galloping horse and to throw somersaults on such
precarious platform while still playing the violin. This man he
got merely to play simple airs in slow time, so that the
assistants could keep the time and the air and pull the wires
"Of course, if you make a howling mistake," Collins told them,
"that's when you all pull the wires like mad and poke the leader
and whirl him around. That always brings down the house. They
think he's got a real musical ear and is mad at his orchestra for
In the midst of the work, Johnny and Michael came along.
"That guy says he wouldn't take him for a gift," Johnny reported
to his employer.
"All right, all right, put him back in the kennels," Collins
ordered hurriedly.--"Now, you fellows, all ready! 'Home, Sweet
Home!' Go to it, Fisher! Now keep the time the rest of you! . .
. That's it. With a full orchestra you're making motions like the
tune.--Faster, you, Simmons. You drag behind all the time."
And the accident happened. Johnny, instead of immediately obeying
the order and taking Michael back to the kennels, lingered in the
hope of seeing the orchestra leader whirled chattering around on
his stool. The violinist, within a yard of where Michael sat
squatted on his haunches, played the notes of "Home, Sweet Home"
with loud slow exactitude and emphasis.
And Michael could not help it. No more could he help it than
could he help responding with a snarl when threatened by a club;
no more could he help it than when he had spoiled the turn of Dick
and Daisy Bell when swept by the strains of "Roll Me Down to Rio";
no more could he help it than could Jerry, on the deck of the
Ariel, help singing when Villa Kennan put her arms around him,
smothered him deliciously in her cloud of hair, and sang his
memory back into time and the fellowship of the ancient pack. As
with Jerry, was it with Michael. Music was a drug of dream. He,
too, remembered the lost pack and sought it, seeing the bare hills
of snow and the stars glimmering overhead through the frosty
darkness of night, hearing the faint answering howls from other
hills as the pack assembled. Lost the pack was, through the
thousands of years Michael's ancestors had lived by the fires of
men; yet remembered always it was when the magic of rhythm poured
through him and flooded his being with visions and sensations of
that Otherwhere which in his own life he had never known.
Compounded with the waking dream of Otherwhere, was the memory of
Steward and the love of Steward, with whom he had learned to sing
the very series of notes that now were being reproduced by the
circus-rider violinist. And Michael's jaw dropped down, his
throat vibrated, his forefeet made restless little movements as if
in the body he were running, as truly he was running in the mind,
back to Steward, back through all the ages to the lost pack, and
with the shadowy lost pack itself across the snowy wastes and
through the forest aisles in the hunt of the meat.
The spectral forms of the lost pack were all about him as he sang
and ran in open-eyed dream; the violinist paused in surprise; the
men poked the monkey leader of the monkey orchestra and whirled
him about wildly raging on his revolving stool; and Johnny
laughed. But Harris Collins took note. He had heard Michael
accurately follow the air. He had heard him sing--not merely
howl, but SING.
Silence fell. The monkey leader ceased revolving and chattering.
The men who had poked him held poles and wires suspended in their
hands. The rest of the monkey orchestra merely shivered in
apprehension of what next atrocity should be perpetrated. The
violinist stared. Johnny still heaved from his laughter. But
Harris Collins pondered, scratched his head, and continued to
"You can't tell me . . . " he began vaguely. "I know it. I heard
it. That dog carried the tune. Didn't he now? I leave it to all
of you. Didn't he? The damned dog sang. I'll stake my life on
it.--Hold on, you fellows; rest the monkeys off. This is worth
following up.--Mr. Violinist, play that over again, now, 'Home,
Sweet Home,'--let her go. Press her strong, and loud, and slow.--
Now watch, all of you, and listen, and tell me if I'm crazy, or if
that dog ain't carrying the tune.--There! What d'ye call it?
There was no discussion. Michael's jaw dropped and his forefeet
began their restless lifting after several measures had been
played. And Harris Collins stepped close to him and sang with him
and in accord.
"Harry Del Mar was right when he said that dog was the limit and
sold his troupe. He knew. The dog's a dog Caruso. No howling
chorus of mutts such as Kingman used to carry around with him, but
a real singer, a soloist. No wonder he wouldn't learn tricks. He
had his specially all the time. And just to think of it! I as
good as gave him away to that dog-killing Wilton Davis. Only he
came back.--Johnny, take extra care of him after this. Bring him
up to the house this afternoon, and I'll give him a real try-out.
My daughter plays the violin. We'll see what music he'll sing
with her. There's a mint of money in him, take it from me."
Thus was Michael discovered. The afternoon's try-out was
partially successful. After vainly attempting strange music on
him, Collins found that he could sing, and would sing, "God Save
the King" and "Sweet Bye and Bye." Many hours of many days were
spent in the quest. Vainly he tried to teach Michael new airs.
Michael put no heart of love in the effort and sullenly abstained.
But whenever one of the songs he had learned from Steward was
played, he responded. He could not help responding. The magic
was stronger than he. In the end, Collins discovered five of the
six songs he knew: "God Save the King," "Sweet Bye and Bye,"
"Lead, Kindly Light," "Home, Sweet Home," and "Roll Me Down to
Rio." Michael never sang "Shenandoah," because Collins and
Collins's daughter did not know the old sea-chanty and therefore
were unable to suggest it to him.
"Five songs are enough, if he won't never learn another note,"
Collins concluded. "They'll make him a bill-topper anywhere.
There's a mint in him. Hang me if I wouldn't take him out on the
road myself if only I was young and footloose."
And so Michael was ultimately sold to one Jacob Henderson for two
thousand dollars. "And I'm giving him away to you at that," said
Collins. "If you don't refuse five thousand for him before six
months, I don't know anything about the show game. He'll skin
that last arithmetic dog of yours to a finish and you won't have
to show yourself and work every minute of the turn. And if you
don't insure him for fifty thousand as soon as he's made good
you'll be a fool. Why, I wouldn't ask anything better, if I was
young and footloose, than to take him out on the road myself."
Henderson proved totally different from any master Michael had
had. The man was a neutral sort of creature. He was neither good
nor evil. He neither drank, smoked, nor swore; nor did he go to
church or belong to the Y.M.C.A. He was a vegetarian without
being a bigoted one, liked moving pictures when they were
concerned with travel, and spent most of his spare time in reading
Swedenborg. He had no temper whatever. Nobody had ever witnessed
anger in him, and all said he had the patience of Job. He was
even timid of policemen, freight agents, and conductors, though he
was not afraid of them. He was not afraid of anything, any more
than was he enamoured of anything save Swedenborg. He was as
colourless of character as the neutral-coloured clothes he wore,
as the neutral-coloured hair that sprawled upon his crown, as the
neutral-coloured eyes with which he observed the world. Nor was
he a fool any more than was he a wise man or a scholar. He gave
little to life, asked little of life, and, in the show business,
was a recluse in the very heart of life.
Michael neither liked nor disliked him, but, rather, merely
accepted him. They travelled the United States over together, and
they never had a quarrel. Not once did Henderson raise his voice
sharply to Michael, and not once did Michael snarl a warning at
him. They simply endured together, existed together, because the
currents of life had drifted them together. Of course, there was
no heart-bond between them. Henderson was master. Michael was
Henderson's chattel. Michael was as dead to him as he was himself
dead to all things.
Yet Jacob Henderson was fair and square, business-like and
methodical. Once each day, when not travelling on the
interminable trains, he gave Michael a thorough bath and
thoroughly dried him afterward. He was never harsh nor hasty in
the bathing. Michael never was aware whether he liked or disliked
the bathing function. It was all one, part of his own fate in the
world as it was part of Henderson's fate to bathe him every so
Michael's own work was tolerably easy, though monotonous. Leaving
out the eternal travelling, the never-ending jumps from town to
town and from city to city, he appeared on the stage once each
night for seven nights in the week and for two afternoon
performances in the week. The curtain went up, leaving him alone
on the stage in the full set that befitted a bill-topper.
Henderson stood in the wings, unseen by the audience, and looked
on. The orchestra played four of the pieces Michael had been
taught by Steward, and Michael sang them, for his modulated
howling was truly singing. He never responded to more than one
encore, which was always "Home, Sweet Home." After that, while
the audience clapped and stamped its approval and delight of the
dog Caruso, Jacob Henderson would appear on the stage, bowing and
smiling in stereotyped gladness and gratefulness, rest his right
hand on Michael's shoulders with a play-acted assumption of
comradeliness, whereupon both Henderson and Michael would bow ere
the final curtain went down.
And yet Michael was a prisoner, a life-prisoner. Fed well, bathed
well, exercised well, he never knew a moment of freedom. When
travelling, days and nights he spent in the cage, which, however,
was generous enough to allow him to stand at full height and to
turn around without too uncomfortable squirming. Sometimes, in
hotels in country towns, out of the crate he shared Henderson's
room with him. Otherwise, unless other animals were hewing on the
same circuit time, he had, outside his cage, the freedom of the
animal room attached to the particular theatre where he performed
for from three days to a week.
But there was never a chance, never a moment, when he might run
free of a cage about him, of the walls of a room restricting him,
of a chain shackled to the collar about his throat. In good
weather, in the afternoons, Henderson often took him for a walk.
But always it was at the end of a chain. And almost always the
way led to some park, where Henderson fastened the other end of
the chain to the bench on which he sat and browsed Swedenborg.
Not one act of free agency was left to Michael. Other dogs ran
free, playing with one another, or behaving bellicosely. If they
approached him for purposes of investigation or acquaintance,
Henderson invariably ceased from his reading long enough to drive
A life prisoner to a lifeless gaoler, life was all grey to
Michael. His moroseness changed to a deep-seated melancholy. He
ceased to be interested in life and in the freedom of life. Not
that he regarded the play of life about him with a jaundiced eye,
but, rather, that his eyes became unseeing. Debarred from life,
he ignored life. He permitted himself to become a sheer puppet
slave, eating, taking his baths, travelling in his cage,
performing regularly, and sleeping much.
He had pride--the pride of the thoroughbred; the pride of the
North American Indian enslaved on the plantations of the West
Indies who died uncomplaining and unbroken. So Michael. He
submitted to the cage and the iron of the chain because they were
too strong for his muscles and teeth. He did his slave-task of
performance and rendered obedience to Jacob Henderson; but he
neither loved nor feared that master. And because of this his
spirit turned in on itself. He slept much, brooded much, and
suffered unprotestingly a great loneliness. Had Henderson made a
bid for his heart, he would surely have responded; but Henderson
had a heart only for the fantastic mental gyrations of Swedenborg,
and merely made his living out of Michael.
Sometimes there were hardships. Michael accepted them.
Especially hard did he find railroad travel in winter-time, when,
on occasion, fresh from the last night's performance in a town, he
remained for hours in his crate on a truck waiting for the train
that would take him to the next town of performance. There was a
night on a station platform in Minnesota, when two dogs of a
troupe, on the next truck to his, froze to death. He was himself
well frosted, and the cold bit abominably into his shoulder
wounded by the leopard; but a better constitution and better
general care of him enabled him to survive.
Compared with other show animals, he was well treated. And much
of the ill-treatment accorded other animals on the same turn with
him he did not comprehend or guess. One turn, with which he
played for three months, was a scandal amongst all vaudeville
performers. Even the hardiest of them heartily disliked the turn
and the man, although Duckworth, and Duckworth's Trained Cats and
Rats, were an invariable popular success.
"Trained cats!" sniffed dainty little Pearl La Pearle, the
bicyclist. "Crushed cats, that's what they are. All the cat has
been beaten out of their blood, and they've become rats. You
can't tell me. I know."
"Trained rats!" Manuel Fonseca, the contortionist, exploded in the
bar-room of the Hotel Annandale, after refusing to drink with
Duckworth. "Doped rats, believe me. Why don't they jump off when
they crawl along the tight rope with a cat in front and a cat
behind? Because they ain't got the life in 'm to jump. They're
doped, straight doped when they're fresh, and starved afterward so
as to making a saving on the dope. They never are fed. You can't
tell me. I know. Else why does he use up anywhere to forty or
fifty rats a week! I know his express shipments, when he can't
buy 'm in the towns."
"My Gawd!" protested Miss Merle Merryweather, the Accordion Girl,
who looked like sixteen on the stage, but who, in private life
among her grand-children, acknowledged forty-eight. "My Gawd, how
the public can fall for it gets my honest-to-Gawd goat. I looked
myself yesterday morning early. Out of thirty rats there were
seven dead,--starved to death. He never feeds them. They're
dying rats, dying of starvation, when they crawl along that rope.
That's why they crawl. If they had a bit of bread and cheese in
their tummies they'd jump and run to get away from the cats.
They're dying, they're dying right there on the rope, trying to
crawl as a dying man would try to crawl away from a tiger that was
eating him. And my Gawd! The bonehead audience sits there and
applauds the show as an educational act!"
But the audience! "Wonderful things kindness will do with
animals," said a member of one, a banker and a deacon. "Even
human love can be taught to them by kindness. The cat and the rat
have been enemies since the world began. Yet here, tonight, we
have seen them doing highly trained feats together, and neither a
cat committed one hostile or overt act against a rat, nor ever a
rat showed it was afraid of a cat. Human kindness! The power of
"The lion and the lamb," said another. "We have it that when the
millennium comes the lion and the lamb will lie down together--and
outside each other, my dear, outside each other. And this is a
forecast, a proving up, by man, ahead of the day. Cats and rats!
Think of it. And it shows conclusively the power of kindness. I
shall see to it at once that we get pets for our own children, our
palm branches. They shall learn kindness early, to the dog, the
cat, yes, even the rat, and the pretty linnet in its cage."
"But," said his dear, beside him, "you remember what Blake said:
"'A Robin Redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.'"
"Ah--but not when it is treated truly with kindness, my dear. I
shall immediately order some rabbits, and a canary or two, and--
what sort of a dog would you prefer our dear little ones to have
to play with, my sweet?"
And his dear looked at him in all his imperturbable, complacent
self-consciousness of kindness, and saw herself the little rural
school-teacher who, with Ella Wheeler Wilcox and Lord Byron as her
idols, and with the dream of herself writing "Poems of Passion,"
had come up to Topeka Town to be beaten by the game into marrying
the solid, substantial business man beside her, who enjoyed
delight in the spectacle of cats and rats walking the tight-rope
in amity, and who was blissfully unaware that she was the Robin
Redbreast in a cage that put all heaven in a rage.
"The rats are bad enough," said Miss Merle Merryweather. "But
look how he uses up the cats. He's had three die on him in the
last two weeks to my certain knowledge. They're only alley-cats,
but they've got feelings. It's that boxing match that does for
The boxing match, sure always of a great hand from the audience,
invariably concluded Duckworth's turn. Two cats, with small
boxing-gloves, were put on a table for a friendly bout.
Naturally, the cats that performed with the rats were too cowed
for this. It was the fresh cats he used, the ones with spunk and
spirit . . . until they lost all spunk and spirit or sickened and
died. To the audience it was a side-splitting, playful encounter
between four-legged creatures who thus displayed a ridiculous
resemblance to superior, two-legged man. But it was not playful
to the cats. They were always excited into starting a real fight
with each other off stage just before they were brought on. In
the blows they struck were anger and pain and bewilderment and
fear. And the gloves just would come off, so that they were
ripping and tearing at each other, biting as well as making the
fur fly, like furies, when the curtain went down. In the eyes of
the audience this apparent impromptu was always the ultimate
scream, and the laughter and applause would compel the curtain up
again to reveal Duckworth and an assistant stage-hand, as if
caught by surprise, fanning the two belligerents with towels.
But the cats themselves were so continually torn and scratched
that the wounds never had a chance to heal and became infected
until they were a mass of sores. On occasion they died, or, when
they had become too abjectly spiritless to attack even a rat, were
set to work on the tight-rope with the doped starved rats that
were too near dead to run away from them. And, as Miss Merle
Merryweather said: the bonehead audiences, tickled to death,
applauded Duckworth's Trained Cats and Rats as an educational act!
A big chimpanzee that covered one of the circuits with Michael had
an antipathy for clothes. Like a horse that fights the putting on
of the bridle, and, after it is on, takes no further notice of it,
so the big chimpanzee fought the putting on the clothes. Once on,
it was ready to go out on the stage and through its turn. But the
rub was in putting on the clothes. It took the owner and two
stage-hands, pulling him up to a ring in the wall and throttling
him, to dress him--and this, despite the fact that the owner had
long since knocked out his incisors.
All this cruelty Michael sensed without knowing. And he accepted
it as the way of life, as he accepted the daylight and the dark,
the bite of the frost on bleak and windy station platforms, the
mysterious land of Otherwhere that he knew in dreams and song, the
equally mysterious Nothingness into which had vanished Meringe
Plantation and ships and oceans and men and Steward.
For two years Michael sang his way over the United States, to fame
for himself and to fortune for Jacob Henderson. There was never
any time off. So great was his success, that Henderson refused
flattering offers to cross the Atlantic to show in Europe. But
off-time did come to Michael when Henderson fell ill of typhoid in
It was a three-months' vacation for Michael, who, well treated but
still a prisoner, spent it in a caged kennel in Mulcachy's Animal
Home. Mulcachy, one of Harris Collins's brightest graduates, had
emulated his master by setting up in business in Chicago, where he
ran everything with the same rigid cleanliness, sanitation, and
scientific cruelty. Michael received nothing but the excellent
food and the cleanliness; but, a solitary and brooding prisoner in
his cage, he could not help but sense the atmosphere of pain and
terror about him of the animals being broken for the delight of
Mulcachy had originated aphorisms of his own which he continually
enunciated, among which were:
"Take it from me, when an animal won't give way to pain, it can't
be broke. Pain is the only school-teacher."
"Just as you got to take the buck out of a broncho, you've got to
take the bite out of a lion."
"You can't break animals with a feather duster. The thicker the
skull the thicker the crowbar."
"They'll always beat you in argument. First thing is to club the
argument out of them."
"Heart-bonds between trainers and animals! Son, that's dope for
the newspaper interviewer. The only heart-bond I know is a stout
stick with some iron on the end of it."
"Sure you can make 'm eat outa your hand. But the thing to watch
out for is that they don't eat your hand. A blank cartridge in
the nose just about that time is the best preventive I know."
There were days when all the air was vexed with roars and squalls
of ferocity and agony from the arena, until the last animal in the
cages was excited and ill at ease. In truth, since it was
Mulcachy's boast that he could break the best animal living, no
end of the hardest cases fell to his hand. He had built a
reputation for succeeding where others failed, and, endowed with
fearlessness, callousness, and cunning, he never let his
reputation wane. There was nothing he dared not tackle, and, when
he gave up an animal, the last word was said. For it, remained
nothing but to be a cage-animal, in solitary confinement, pacing
ever up and down, embittered with all the world of man and roaring
its bitterness to the most delicious enthrillment of the pay-
During the three months spent by Michael in Mulcachy's Animal
Home, occurred two especially hard cases. Of course, the daily
chant of ordinary pain of training went on all the time through
the working hours, such as of "good" bears and lions and tigers
that were made amenable under stress, and of elephants derricked
and gaffed into making the head-stand or into the beating of a
bass drum. But the two cases that were exceptional, put a mood of
depression and fear into all the listening animals, such as humans
might experience in an ante-room of hell, listening to the
flailing and the flaying of their fellows who had preceded them
into the torture-chamber.
The first was of the big Indian tiger. Free-born in the jungle,
and free all his days, master, according to his nature and
prowess, of all other living creatures including his fellow-
tigers, he had come to grief in the end; and, from the trap to the
cramped cage, by elephant-back and railroad and steamship, ever in
the cramped cage, he had journeyed across seas and continents to
Mulcachy's Animal Home. Prospective buyers had examined but not
dared to purchase. But Mulcachy had been undeterred. His own
fighting blood leapt hot at sight of the magnificent striped cat.
It was a challenge of the brute in him to excel. And, two weeks
of hell, for the great tiger and for all the other animals, were
required to teach him his first lesson.
Ben Bolt he had been named, and he arrived indomitable and
irreconcilable, though almost paralysed from eight weeks of cramp
in his narrow cage which had restricted all movement. Mulcachy
should have undertaken the job immediately, but two weeks were
lost by the fact that he had got married and honeymooned for that
length of time. And in that time, in a large cage of concrete and
iron, Ben Bolt had exercised and recovered the use of his muscles,
and added to his hatred of the two-legged things, puny against him
in themselves, who by trick and wile had so helplessly imprisoned
So, on this morning when hell yawned for him, he was ready and
eager to meet all comers. They came, equipped with formulas,
nooses, and forked iron bars. Five of them tossed nooses in
through the bars upon the floor of his cage. He snarled and
struck at the curling ropes, and for ten minutes was a grand and
impossible wild creature, lacking in nothing save the wit and the
patience possessed by the miserable two-legged things. And then,
impatient and careless of the inanimate ropes, he paused, snarling
at the men, with one hind foot resting inside a noose. The next
moment, craftily lifted up about the girth of his leg by an iron
fork, the noose tightened and the bite of it sank home into his
flesh and pride. He leaped, he roared, he was a maniac of
ferocity. Again and again, almost burning their palms, he tore
the rope smoking through their hands. But ever they took in the
slack and paid it out again, until, ere he was aware, a similar
noose tightened on his fore-leg. What he had done was nothing to
what he now did. But he was stupid and impatient. The man-
creatures were wise and patient, and a third leg and a fourth leg
were finally noosed, so that, with many men tailing on to the
ropes, he was dragged ignominiously on his side to the bars, and,
ignominiously, through the bars were hauled his four legs, his
chiefest weapons of offence after his terribly fanged jaws.
And then a puny man-creature, Mulcachy himself, dared openly and
brazenly to enter the cage and approach him. He sprang to be at
him, or, rather, strove so to spring, but was withstrained by his
four legs through the bars which he could not draw back and get
under him. And Mulcachy knelt beside him, dared kneel beside him,
and helped the fifth noose over his head and round his neck. Then
his head was drawn to the bars as helplessly as his legs had been
drawn through. Next, Mulcachy laid hands on him, on his head, on
his ears, on his very nose within an inch of his fangs; and he
could do nothing but snarl and roar and pant for breath as the
noose shut off his breathing.
Quivering, not with fear but with rage, Ben Bolt perforce endured
the buckling around his throat of a thick, broad collar of leather
to which was attached a very stout and a very long trailing rope.
After that, when Mulcachy had left the cage, one by one the five
nooses were artfully manipulated off his legs and his neck.
Again, after this prodigious indignity, he was free--within his
cage. He went up into the air. With returning breath he roared
his rage. He struck at the trailing rope that offended his
nerves, clawed at the trap of the collar that encased his neck,
fell, rolled over, offended his body-nerves more and more by
entangling contacts with the rope, and for half an hour exhausted
himself in the futile battle with the inanimate thing. Thus
tigers are broken.
At the last, wearied, even with sensations of sickness from the
nervous strain put upon himself by his own anger, he lay down in
the middle of the floor, lashing his tail, hating with his eyes,
and accepting the clinging thing about his neck which he had
learned he could not get rid of.
To his amazement, if such a thing be possible in the mental
processes of a tiger, the rear door to his cage was thrown open
and left open. He regarded the aperture with belligerent
suspicion. No one and no threatening danger appeared in the
doorway. But his suspicion grew. Always, among these man-
animals, occurred what he did not know and could not comprehend.
His preference was to remain where he was, but from behind,
through the bars of the cage, came shouts and yells, the lash of
whips, and the painful thrusts of the long iron forks. Dragging
the rope behind him, with no thought of escape, but in the hope
that he would get at his tormentors, he leaped into the rear
passage that ran behind the circle of permanent cages. The
passage way was deserted and dark, but ahead he saw light. With
great leaps and roars, he rushed in that direction, arousing a
pandemonium of roars and screams from the animals in the cages.
He bounded through the light, and into the light, dazzled by the
brightness of it, and crouched down, with long, lashing tail, to
orient himself to the situation. But it was only another and
larger cage that he was in, a very large cage, a big, bright
performing-arena that was all cage. Save for himself, the arena
was deserted, although, overhead, suspended from the roof-bars,
were block-and-tackle and seven strong iron chairs that drew his
instant suspicion and caused him to roar at them.
For half an hour he roamed the arena, which was the greatest area
of restricted freedom he had known in the ten weeks of his
captivity. Then, a hooked iron rod, thrust through the bars,
caught and drew the bight of his trailing rope into the hands of
the men outside. Immediately ten of them had hold of it, and he
would have charged up to the bars at them had not, at that moment,
Mulcachy entered the arena through a door on the opposite side.
No bars stood between Ben Bolt and this creature, and Ben Bolt
charged him. Even as he charged he was aware of suspicion in that
the small, fragile man-creature before him did not flee or crouch
down, but stood awaiting him.
Ben Bolt never reached him. First, with an access of caution, he
craftily ceased from his charge, and, crouching, with lashing
tail, studied the man who seemed so easily his. Mulcachy was
equipped with a long-lashed whip and a sharp-pronged fork of iron.
In his belt, loaded with blank cartridges, was a revolver.
Bellying closer to the ground, Ben Bolt advanced upon him,
creeping slowly like a cat stalking a mouse. When he came to his
next pause, which was within certain leaping distance, he crouched
lower, gathered himself for the leap, then turned his head to
regard the men at his back outside the cage. The trailing rope in
their hands, to his neck, he had forgotten.
"Now you might as well be good, old man," Mulcachy addressed him
in soft, caressing tones, taking a step toward him and holding in
advance the iron fork.
This merely incensed the huge, magnificent creature. He rumbled a
low, tense growl, flattened his ears back, and soared into the
air, his paws spread so that the claws stood out like talons, his
tail behind him as stiff and straight as a rod. Neither did the
man crouch or flee, nor did the beast attain to him. At the
height of his leap the rope tightened taut on his neck, causing
him to describe a somersault and fall heavily to the floor on his
Before he could regain his feet, Mulcachy was upon him, shouting
to his small audience: "Here's where we pound the argument out of
him!" And pound he did, on the nose with the butt of the whip,
and jab he did, with the iron fork to the ribs. He rained a
hurricane of blows and jabs on the animal's most sensitive parts.
Ever Ben Bolt leaped to retaliate, but was thrown by the ten men
tailed on to the rope, and, each time, even as he struck the floor
on his side, Mulcachy was upon him, pounding, smashing, jabbing.
His pain was exquisite, especially that of his tender nose. And
the creature who inflicted the pain was as fierce and terrible as
he, even more so because he was more intelligent. In but few
minutes, dazed by the pain, appalled by his inability to rend and
destroy the man who inflicted it, Ben Bolt lost his courage. He
fled ignominiously before the little, two-legged creature who was
more terrible than himself who was a full-grown Royal Bengal
tiger. He leaped high in the air in sheer panic; he ran here and
there, with lowered head, to avoid the rain of pain. He even
charged the sides of the arena, springing up and vainly trying to
climb the slippery vertical bars.
Ever, like an avenging devil, Mulcachy pursued and smashed and
jabbed, gritting through his teeth: "You will argue, will you?
I'll teach you what argument is! There! Take that! And that!
"Now I've got him afraid of me, and the rest ought to be easy," he
announced, resting off and panting hard from his exertions, while
the great tiger crouched and quivered and shrank back from him
against the base of the arena-bars. "Take a five-minute spell,
you fellows, and we'll got our breaths."
Lowering one of the iron chairs, and attaching it firmly in its
place on the floor, Mulcachy prepared for the teaching of the
first trick. Ben Bolt, jungle-born and jungle-reared, was to be
compelled to sit in the chair in ludicrous and tragic imitation of
man-creatures. But Mulcachy was not quite ready. The first
lesson of fear of him must be reiterated and driven home.
Stepping to a near safe distance, he lashed Ben Bolt on the nose.
He repeated it. He did it a score of times, and scores of times.
Turn his head as he would, ever Ben Bolt received the bite of the
whip on his fearfully bruised nose; for Mulcachy was as expert as
a stage-driver in his manipulation of the whip, and unerringly the
lash snapped and cracked and stung Ben Bolt's nose wherever Ben
Bolt at the moment might have it.
When it became maddeningly unendurable, he sprang, only to be
jerked back by the ten strong men who held the rope to his neck.
And wrath, and ferocity, and intent to destroy, passed out utterly
from the tiger's inflamed brain, until he knew fear, again and
again, always fear and only fear, utter and abject fear, of this
human mite who searched him with such pain.
Then the lesson of the first trick was taken up. Mulcachy tapped
the chair sharply with the butt of the whip to draw the animal's
attention to it, then flicked the whip-lash sharply on his nose.
At the same moment, an attendant, through the bars behind, drove
an iron fork into his ribs to force him away from the bars and
toward the chair. He crouched forward, then shrank back against
the side-bars. Again the chair was rapped, his nose was lashed,
his ribs were jabbed, and he was forced by pain toward the chair.
This went on interminably--for a quarter of an hour, for half an
hour, for an hour; for the men-animals had the patience of gods
while he was only a jungle-brute. Thus tigers are broken. And
the verb means just what it means. A performing animal is BROKEN.
Something BREAKS in an animal of the wild ere such an animal
submits to do tricks before pay-audiences.
Mulcachy ordered an assistant to enter the arena with him. Since
he could not compel the tiger directly to sit in the chair, he
must employ other means. The rope about Ben Bolt's neck was
passed up through the bars and rove through the block-and-tackle.
At signal from Mulcachy, the ten men hauled away. Snarling,
struggling, choking, in a fresh madness of terror at this new
outrage, Ben Bolt was slowly hoisted by his neck up from the
floor, until, quite clear of it, whirling, squirming, battling,
suspended by his neck like a man being hanged, his wind was shut
off and he began to suffocate. He coiled and twisted, the
splendid muscles of his body enabling him almost to tie knots in
The block-and-tackle, running like a trolley on the overhead
track, made it possible for the assistant to seize his tail and
drag him through the air till he was above the chair. His
helpless body guided thus by the tail, his chest jabbed by the
iron fork in Mulcachy's hands, the rope was suddenly lowered, and
Ben Bolt, with swimming brain, found himself seated in the chair.
On the instant he leaped for the floor, received a blow on the
nose from the heavy whip-handle, and had a blank cartridge fired
straight into his nostril. His madness of pain and fear was
multiplied. He sprang away in flight, but Mulcachy's voice rang
out, "Hoist him!" and he slowly rose in the air again, hanging by
his neck, and began to strangle.
Once more he was swung into position by his tail, jabbed in the
chest, and lowered suddenly on the run--but so suddenly, with a
frantic twist of his body on his part, that he fell violently
across the chair on his belly. What little wind was left him from
the strangling, seemed to have been ruined out of him by the
violence of the fall. The glare in his eyes was maniacal and
swimming. He panted frightfully, and his head rolled back and
forth. Slaver dripped from his mouth, blood ran from his nose.
"Hoist away!" Mulcachy shouted.
And again, struggling frantically as the tightening collar shut
off his wind, Ben Bolt was slowly lifted into the air. So wildly
did he struggle that, ere his hind feet were off the floor, he
pranced back and forth, so that when he was heaved clear his body
swung like a huge pendulum. Over the chair, he was dropped, and
for a fraction of a second the posture was his of a man sitting in
a chair. Then he uttered a terrible cry and sprang.
It was neither snarl, nor growl, nor roar, that cry, but a sheer
scream, as if something had broken inside of him. He missed
Mulcachy by inches, as another blank cartridge exploded up his
other nostril and as the men with the rope snapped him back so
abruptly as almost to break his neck.
This time, lowered quickly, he sank into the chair like a half-
empty sack of meal, and continued so to sink, until, crumpling at
the middle, his great tawny head falling forward, he lay on the
floor unconscious. His tongue, black and swollen, lolled out of
his mouth. As buckets of water were poured on him he groaned and
moaned. And here ended the first lesson.
"It's all right," Mulcachy said, day after day, as the teaching
went on. "Patience and hard work will pull off the trick. I've
got his goat. He's afraid of me. All that's required is time,
and time adds to value with an animal like him."
Not on that first day, nor on the second, nor on the third, did
the requisite something really break inside Ben Bolt. But at the
end of a fortnight it did break. For the day came when Mulcachy
rapped the chair with his whip-butt, when the attendant through
the bars jabbed the iron fork into Ben Bolt's ribs, and when Ben
Bolt, anything but royal, slinking like a beaten alley-cat, in
pitiable terror, crawled over to the chair and sat down in it like
a man. He now was an "educated" tiger. The sight of him, so
sitting, tragically travestying man, has been considered, and is
considered, "educative" by multitudinous audiences.
The second case, that of St. Elias, was a harder one, and it was
marked down against Mulcachy as one of his rare failures, though
all admitted that it was an unavoidable failure. St. Elias was a
huge monster of an Alaskan bear, who was good-natured and even
facetious and humorous after the way of bears. But he had a will
of his own that was correspondingly as stubborn as his bulk. He
could be persuaded to do things, but he would not tolerate being
compelled to do things. And in the trained-animal world, where
turns must go off like clockwork, is little or no space for
persuasion. An animal must do its turn, and do it promptly.
Audiences will not brook the delay of waiting while a trainer
tries to persuade a crusty or roguish beast to do what the
audience has paid to see it do.
So St. Elias received his first lesson in compulsion. It was also
his last lesson, and it never progressed so far as the training-
arena, for it took place in his own cage.
Noosed in the customary way, his four legs dragged through the
bars, and his head, by means of a "choke" collar, drawn against
the bars, he was first of all manicured. Each one of his great
claws was cut off flush with his flesh. The men outside did this.
Then Mulcachy, on the inside, punched his nose. Not lightly as it
sounds was this operation. The punch was a perforation.
Thrusting the instrument into the huge bear's nostril, Mulcachy
cut a clean round chunk of living meat out of one side of it.
Mulcachy knew the bear business. At all times, to make an
untrained bear obey, one must be fast to some sensitive portion of
the bear. The ears, the nose, and the eyes are the accessible
sensitive parts, and, the eyes being out of the question, remain
the nose and the ears as the parts to which to make fast.
Through the perforation Mulcachy immediately clamped a metal ring.
To the ring he fastened a long "lunge"-rope, which was well named.
Any unruly lunge, at any time during all the subsequent life of
St. Elias, could thus be checked by the man who held the lunge-
rope. His destiny was patent and ordained. For ever, as long as
he lived and breathed, would he be a prisoner and slave to the
rope in the ring in his nostril.