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The Circus Boys Across The Continent Or Winning New Laurels on the Tanbark

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Throwing Phil from the tentman, Miaco jerked Larry about,
and demanded to know what he meant by intruding on the privacy
of the dressing tent in that manner.

"I want that kid," he growled.

"Put him out!" howled a voice.

"What do you want him for?"

"He--he dumped a pail of water over me. I'll get even with him.

"How about this, Master Teddy?" questioned Mr. Miaco.

Teddy explained briefly how the fellow Larry and a companion
had ducked him under the water tank, and had ruined his clothes,
together with causing him to miss his train.

"This demands investigation," decided Mr. Miaco gravely.
"Fellows, it is evident that we had better try this man.
That is the best way to dispose of his case."

"Yes, yes; try him!" they shouted.

"Whom shall we have for judge?"

"Oscar, the midget!"

The Smallest Man on Earth was quickly boosted to the top of a
property box.

"Vot iss?" questioned the midget, his wizened, yellow little face
wrinkling into a questioning smile.

"We are going to try this fellow, Larry, and you are to be
the judge."

"Yah," agreed Oscar, after which he subsided, listening to the
proceedings that followed, with grave, expressionless eyes.
It is doubtful if Oscar understood what it was all about, but his
gravity and judicial manner sent the whole dressing tent into an
uproar of merriment.

After the evidence was all in, the entire company taking part in
testifying, amid much merriment--for the performers entered into
the spirit of the trial like a lot of schoolboys--Oscar was asked
to decide what should be done with the prisoner Larry.

Oscar was at a loss to know how to answer.

"Duck him," suggested one.

This was an inspiration to Oscar. He smiled broadly.

"Yah, dat iss."

"What iss?" demanded the Tallest Man On Earth. "Talk
United States."

"Yah," agreed Oscar, smiling seraphically. "Duck um."

"Larry, it is the verdict of this court that you be ducked,
as the only fitting punishment for one who has committed the
crime of laying hands on a Circus Boy. Are we all agreed on the
punishment meted out by the dignified judge?"

"Yes, yes!" they shouted. "The rain barrel for him."

"Men, do your duty!" cried Mr. Miaco.

"I wouldn't do that," interposed Phil. "You haven't any more
right to duck him than he had to put Teddy under the water tank.
It isn't right."

But they gave no heed to his protests. Willing hands
grabbed the red-headed tentman, whose kicks and struggles
availed him nothing. Raising him over the barrel of water
they soused him in head first, ducking him again and again.

"Take him out. You'll drown him," begged Phil.

Then they hauled Larry out, shaking the water out of him.
As soon as his coughing ceased, he threatened dire vengeance
against his assailants.

Four performers then carried their victim to the opening of the
dressing tent and threw him out bodily.

Instantly Larry's companions saw him fall at their feet, and
heard his angry explanation of the indignities that had been
heaped upon him. There was a lively scrambling over the ground,
and the next instant a volley of stones was hurled into the
dressing tent.

Phil was just coming out on his way to the main entrance as the
row began. A stone just grazed his cheek. Without giving the
least heed to the assailants, he turned to cross the paddock in
order to slip out under the tent and go on about his business.
Most lads would have run under the circumstances. Not so Phil.
His were steady nerves.

"There he is! Grab him!" shouted Larry, catching sight of Phil
and charging that Phil had been one of those who had helped
duck him.

Such was not the case, however, for instead of having taken part
in the ducking, Phil Forrest had tried to prevent it.

Larry and another man were running toward him. The lad halted,
turned and faced them.

"What do you want of me?" he demanded.

"I'll show you what I want of you. You started this row."

"I did nothing of the sort, sir. You go on about your business
and I shall do the same, whether you do or not."

Phil raised the canvas and stepped out. But no sooner had he
gotten out into the lot than the two men burst through the
flapping side wall.

The boy saw them coming and knew that he was face to face
with trouble.

He adopted a ruse, knowing full well that he could not hope
to cope with the brawny canvasmen single handed and alone.
Starting off on a run, Phil was followed instantly, as he felt
sure he would be, but managing to keep just ahead of the men and
no more.

"I've got you!"

The voice was almost at his ear.

Phil halted with unexpected suddenness and dropped on all fours.

The canvasman was too close to check his own speed. He fell over
Phil, landing on his head and shoulders in the dirt.

The lad was up like a flash. Larry was close upon him now, and
with a snarl of rage launched a blow full at Phil Forrest's face.
But he had not reckoned on the lad's agility, nor did he know
that Phil was a trained athlete. Therefore, Larry's surprise was
great when his fist beat the empty air.

Thrown off his balance, Larry measured his length on the ground.

"I advise you to let me alone," warned Phil coolly, as the
tentman was scrambling to his feet. Already Larry's companion
had gotten up and was gazing at Phil in a half dazed sort of way.

"Get hold of him, Bad Eye! What are you standing there like a
dummy for? He'll run in a minute."

Phil's better judgment told him to do that very thing, but he
could not bring himself to run from danger. Much as he disliked
a row, he was too plucky and courageous to run from danger.

Bad Eye was rushing at him, his eyes blazing with anger.

Phil side-stepped easily, avoiding his antagonist without the
least difficulty. But now he had to reckon with Larry, who,
by this time, had gotten to his feet.

It was two to one.

"Stand back unless you want to get hurt!" cried Phil, with a
warning glint in his eyes.

Larry, by way of answer, struck viciously at him. Phil, with a
glance about him, saw that he could not expect help, for there
was no one in sight, the performers being engaged at that moment
in driving off the angry laborers, which they were succeeding in
doing with no great effort on their part.

The lad cleverly dodged the blow. But instead of backing away
as the canvasman's fist barely grazed his cheek, Phil, with a
short arm jolt, caught his adversary on the point of his chin.
Larry instantly lost all desire for fight. He sat down on the
hard ground with a bump.

Now Bad Eye rushed in. Again Phil sidestepped, and, thrusting a
foot between the fellow's legs, tripped him neatly.

Half a dozen men came running from the paddock. They were the
fellows whom the performers had put to rout. At that moment the
bugle blew for all hands to prepare for the parade.

"I guess I have done about enough for one day," decided Phil.
"And for a sick man it wasn't a half bad job."

With an amused glance at his fallen adversaries Phil ran to the
big top, less than a rod away, and, lifting the sidewall, slipped
under and disappeared within.



"Tweetle! Tweetle!"

Two rippling blasts from the ringmaster's whistle notified the
show people that the performance was on. In moved the procession
for the Grand Entry, as the silken curtains separating the
paddock from the big top slowly fell apart.

Phil, from his lofty perch on the head of old Emperor, peering
through the opening of the bonnet in which he was concealed,
could not repress an exclamation of admiration. It was a
splendid spectacle--taken from a story of ancient Rome--
that was sweeping majestically about the arena to the music
of an inspiring tune into which the big circus band had
suddenly launched.

Gayly-caparisoned, nervous horses pranced and reared; huge
wagons, gorgeous under their coat of paint and gold, glistened
in the afternoon sunlight that fell softly through the canvas top
and gave the peculiar rattling sound so familiar to the lover of
the circus as they moved majestically into the arena; elephants
trumpeted shrilly and the animals back in the menagerie tent sent
up a deafening roar of protest. After months of quiet in their
winter quarters, this unusual noise and excitement threw the wild
beasts into a tempest of anger. Pacing their cages with upraised
heads, they hurled their loud-voiced protests into the air until
the more timid of the spectators trembled in their seats.

It was an inspiring moment for the circus people, as well as for
the spectators.

"Tweetle! Tweetle!" sang the ringmaster's whistle after the
spectacle had wound its way once around the concourse.

At this the procession wheeled, its head cutting between the
two rings, slowly and majestically reaching for the paddock
and dressing tent, where the performers would hurry into their
costumes for their various acts to follow.

This left only the elephants in the ring. The huge beasts now
began their evolutions, ponderous but graceful, eliciting great
applause, as did their trainer, Mr. Kennedy. Then came the
round-off of the act. This, it will be remembered, was of Phil
Forrest's own invention, the act in which Phil, secreted in the
elephant's bonnet, burst out at the close of the act, and, by the
aid of wires running over a pulley above him, was able to descend
gracefully to the sawdust arena.

He was just a little nervous in this, the first performance of
the season, but, steadying his nerves, he went through the act
without a hitch and amid thunders of applause. As in the
previous season's act, old Emperor carried the lad from the ring,
holding Phil out in front of him firmly clasped in his trunk.
No similar act ever had been seen in a circus until Phil and
Emperor worked it out for themselves. It had become one of the
features of the show last year, and it bade fair to be equally
popular that season. Phil had added to it somewhat, which gave
the act much more finish than before.

"Very good, young man," approved Mr. Sparling, as the elephant
bore the lad out. Mr. Sparling was watching the show with keen
eyes in order to decide what necessary changes were to be made.
"Coming back to watch the performance?"

"Oh, yes. I wouldn't miss that for anything."

As soon as the lad had thrown off his costume and gotten back
into his clothes, he hurried into the big top, where he found
Teddy, who did not go on in his bucking mule act until later.

"How's the show, Teddy?" greeted Phil.

"Great. Greatest thing I ever saw. Did you see the fellows jump
over the herd of elephants and horses?"

"No. Who were they?"

"Oh, most all of the crowd, I guess. I'm going to do that."

"You, Teddy? Why, you couldn't jump over half a dozen
elephants and turn a somersault. You would break your neck the
first thing."

"Mr. Miaco says I could. Says I'm just the build for that sort
of thing," protested the lad.

"Well, then, get him to teach you. Of course we can't know how
to do too many things in this business. We have learned that it
pays to know how to do almost everything. Have you made friends
with the mule since you got back?"

"Yes. He spooned over me and made believe he loved me like
a brother."

Teddy paused reflectively.

"Then what?"

"Well, then he tried to kick the daylight out of me."

"I thought so," laughed Phil. "I'm glad I chose an elephant for
my friend, instead of an educated mule. When are you going to
begin on the springboard--begin practicing, I mean?"

"Mr. Miaco says he'll teach me as soon as we get settled--"

"Settled? I never heard of a show getting settled--that is, not
until the season is ended and it is once more in winter quarters.
I suppose by 'settled' he means when everything gets to
moving smoothly."

"I guess so," nodded Teddy. "What are you going to do?"

"The regular acts that I did last year."

"No; I mean what are you going to learn new?"

"Oh! Well, there are two things I'm crazy to be able to do."

"What are they?"

"One is to be a fine trapeze performer," announced Phil

"And the other?"

"To ride bareback."

"Want to be the whole thing, don't you?" jeered Teddy.

"No; not quite. But I should like to be able to do those two
things, and to do them well. There is nothing that catches the
audiences as do the trapezists and the bareback riders. And it
fascinates me as well."

"Here, too," agreed Teddy.

"But there is one thing I want to talk with you about--to read
you a lecture."

"You needn't."

"I shouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of an inquiry
about the row in the dressing tent. You know Mr. Sparling won't
stand for anything of that sort."

"He doesn't know about it," interposed Teddy.

"But we do. Therefore, we are just as much to blame as if he
did know. And I am not so sure that he doesn't. You can't fool
Mr. Sparling. You ought to know that by this time. There isn't
a thing goes on in this show that he doesn't find out about,
sooner or later, and he is going to find out about this."

"I didn't do anything. You did, when you had a scrap with those
two fellows out on the lot."

"You forget that you started the row by emptying a pail of water
on Larry's head. Don't you call that starting doing anything?
I do."

Phil had to laugh at the comical expression on his
companion's face.

"Well, maybe."

"And we haven't heard the last of those fellows yet. They're mad
all through. I am sorry I had to hit them. But they would have
used me badly had I not done something to protect myself.
I should tell the whole matter to Mr. Sparling, were it not that
I would get others into trouble. That I wouldn't do."

"I should think not."

"By the way, Teddy, there come the bareback riders. Don't you
follow after their act?"

"My! That's so. I had forgotten all about that. Thought I was
watching the show just like the rest of the folks."

"Better hustle, or you won't get into your makeup in time
to go on. There'll be a row for certain if you are late."

But Teddy already had started on a run for the dressing tent,
bowling over a clown at the entrance to the paddock and bringing
down the wrath of that individual as he hustled for the
dressing tent and began feverishly getting into his ring clothes.
These consisted of a loose fitting pair of trousers, a slouch hat
and a coat much the worse for wear. A "Rube" act, it was called
in show parlance, and it was that in very truth, more because of
Teddy's drollery than for the makeup that he wore.

Phil quickly forgot all about the lecture he had been reading to
his companion as the bareback riders came trotting in. His eyes
were fixed on a petite, smiling figure who tripped up to the
curbing, where she turned toward the audience, and, kicking one
foot out behind her, bowed and threw a kiss to the spectators.

Phil had walked over and sat down by the center pole right
near the sawdust ring, so that he might get a better view
of the riding.

The young woman who so attracted his attention was known
on the show bills as "Little Miss Dimples, the Queen of the
Sawdust Arena." Phil, as he gazed at her graceful little figure,
agreed that the show bills did not exaggerate her charms at all.

Little Dimples, using the ringmaster's hand as a step, vaulted
lightly to the back of the great gray ring horse, where she sat
as the animal began a slow walk about the ring.

Phil wondered how she could stay on, for she appeared to be
sitting right on the animal's sloping hip.

The band struck up a lively tune, the gray horse began a slow,
methodical gallop. The first rise of the horse bounded Little
Dimples to her knees, and the next to her feet.

With a merry little "yip! yip!" she began executing a fairy-like
dance, keeping time with her whip, which she held grasped in
both hands.

"Beautiful!" cried Phil, bringing his hands together sharply.
In fact, he had never seen such artistic riding. The girl seemed
to be treading on air, so lightly did her feet touch the rosined
back of the ring horse.

Little Dimples heard and understood. She flashed a brilliant
smile at Phil and tossed her whip as a salute. Phil had never
met her, but they both belonged to the same great family, and
that was sufficient.

His face broke out into a pleased smile at her recognition and
the lad touched his hat lightly, settling back against the
center pole to watch Dimples' riding, which had only just begun.
It made him laugh outright to see her big picture hat bobbing up
and down with the motion of the horse.

"Works just like an elephant's ear when the flies are thick,"
was the lad's somewhat inelegant comparison.

But now Dimples removed the hat, sending it spinning to the
ringmaster, who, in turn, tossed it to an attendant. The real
work of the act was about to start. Phil never having seen the
young woman ride, did not know what her particular specialty was.
Just now he was keenly observing, that he might learn
her methods.

Dimples' next act was to jump through a series of paper hoops.
This finished, she leaped to the ring, and, taking a running
start, vaulted to the back of her horse.

"Bravo!" cried Phil, which brought another brilliant smile from
the rider. She knew that it was not herself, but her work,
that had brought this expression of approval from the Circus Boy,
whom she already knew of by hearing some of the other performers
tell of his achievements since he joined the circus less than a
year ago.

"The ring is rough. I should have thought they would have
leveled it down better," Phil grumbled, noting the uneven surface
of the sawdust circle with critical eyes. "I'll bet Mr. Sparling
hasn't seen that, or he would have raised a row. But still
Dimples seems very sure on her feet. I wonder if she does any
brilliant stunts?"

As if in answer to the lad's question, the "tweetle" of the
ringmaster's whistle brought everything to a standstill under the
big top. Even the band suddenly ceased playing. Then Phil knew
that something worthwhile was coming.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" announced the ringmaster, holding up
his right hand to attract the eyes of the spectators to him,
"Little Miss Dimples, The Queen of the Sawdust Arena, will now
perform her thrilling, death-defying, unexcelled, unequaled feat
of turning a somersault on the back of a running horse. I might
add in this connection that Little Miss Dimples is the only woman
who ever succeeded in going through this feat without finishing
up by breaking her neck. The band will cease playing while this
perilous performance is on, as the least distraction on the part
of the rider might result fatally for her. Ladies and gentlemen,
I introduce to you Little Miss Dimples," concluded the
ringmaster, with a comprehensive wave of the hand toward the
young woman and her gray ring horse.

Dimples dropped to the ring, swept a courtesy to the audience,
then leaped to the animal's back with a sharp little "yip! yip!"

During the first round of the ring she removed the bridle,
tossing it mischievously in Phil's direction. He caught it
deftly, placing it on the ground beside him, then edged a little
closer to the ring that he might the better observe her work.

The ring horse started off at a lively gallop, the rider allowing
her elbows to rise and fall with the motion of the horse,
in order that she might the more thoroughly become a part of the
animal itself--that the motion of each should be the same.

Suddenly Dimples sprang nimbly to her feet, tossing her riding
whip to the waiting hands of the ringmaster.

Phil half scrambled to his feet as he saw her poise for a
backward somersault. He had noted another thing, too. She was
going to throw herself, it seemed, just as the horse was on the
roughest part of the ring. He wondered if she could make it.
To him it was a risky thing to try, but she no doubt knew better
than he what she was about.

The ringmaster held up his hand as a signal to the audience that
the daring act was about to take place.

Phil crept a little nearer.

All at once the girl gracefully threw herself into the air.
He judged she had cleared the back of the animal by at least
three feet, a high jump to make straight up with unbent knees.

But just as she was leaving the back of the horse, the animal
suddenly stumbled, thus turning her halfway around, and for the
instant taking her mind from her work. Dimples already had
begun to turn backward, but he noted that all at once she
stopped turning.

Phil knew what that meant. As show people term it, she had
"frozen" in the air. She was falling, head first, right toward
the wooden ring curbing.

"Turn! Turn!" cried Phil sharply.

The girl was powerless to do so, while the ringmaster, being on
the opposite side of the ring, could be of no assistance to her.

"Turn!" shouted Phil, more loudly this time, giving a mighty
spring in the direction of the falling woman.



The audience had half risen, believing that the girl would surely
be killed. It did seem that it would be a miracle if she escaped
without serious injury.

But the Circus Boy, his every faculty centered on the task before
him, proposed to save her if he could.

He sprang up on the ring curbing, stretching both hands above his
head as far as he could reach, bracing himself with legs wide
apart to meet the shock.

It is not an easy task to attempt to catch a person, especially
if that person be falling toward you head first. But Phil
Forrest calculated in a flash how he would do it. That is,
he would unless he missed.

It all happened in much less time than it takes to tell it,
of course, and a moment afterwards one could not have told how it
had occurred.

The Circus Boy threw both hands under Dimples' outstretched
arms with the intention of jerking her down to her feet,
then springing from the curbing with her before both should
topple over.

His plan worked well up to the point of catching her.
But instantly upon doing so he realized that she was moving
with such speed as to make it impossible for him to retain
his balance.

Dimples was hurled into his arms with great force, bowling Phil
over like a ninepin. Yet, in falling, he did not lose his
presence of mind. He hoped fervently that he might be fortunate
enough not to strike on a stake, of which there were many on that
side of the ring.

"Save yourself!" gasped the girl.

Instead, Phil held her up above him at arm's length. When he
struck it was full on his back, the back of his head coming in
contact with the hard ground with such force as to stun him
almost to the point of unconsciousness. As he struck he gave
Dimples a little throw so that she cleared his body, landing on
the ground beyond him.

The girl stretched forth her hands and did a handspring, once
more thorough master of herself, landing gracefully on her feet.
But Phil had undoubtedly saved her life, as she well knew.

Without giving the slightest heed to the audience, which was
howling its delight, Dimples ran to the fallen lad, leaning over
him anxiously.

"Are you hurt?" she begged, placing a hand on his head.

"I--I guess not," answered Phil, pulling himself together
a little. "I'll get up or they'll think something is the matter
with me."

"Let me help you."

"No, thank you," he replied, brushing aside the hand she had
extended to him. But his back hurt him so severely that he could
only with difficulty stand upright.

Phil smiled and straightened, despite the pain.

At that Dimples grasped him by the hand, leading him to the
concourse facing the reserved seats, where she made a low bow to
the audience; then, throwing both arms about Phil, she gave him a
hearty kiss.

Thunders of applause greeted this, the audience getting to its
feet in its excitement. Had it been possible, both the boy and
Miss Dimples would have been borne in triumph from the ring.

"Come back and sit down while I finish my act," she whispered.

"You're not going to try that again, are you?" questioned Phil.

"Of course I am. You'll see what a hit it will make."

"I saw that you came near making a hit a few moments ago,"
answered the lad.

"There, there; don't be sarcastic," she chided, giving him a
playful tap. "If you feel strong enough, please help me up."

Phil did so smilingly; then he retired to his place by the center
pole, against which he braced his aching back.

"Turn after you have gotten over the rough spot," he
cautioned her.

Dimples nodded her understanding.

This time Phil held his breath as he saw her crouching ever so
little for her spring.

Dimples uttered another shrill "yip!" and threw herself into the
air again.

He saw, with keen satisfaction, that this time she was not
going to miss. Dimples turned in the air with wonderful grace,
alighting far back on the broad hips of the gray horse with
bird-like lightness.

Phil doffed his hat, and, getting to his feet, limped away,
with the audience roaring out its applause. They had forgotten
all about the boy who but a few moments before had saved Little
Dimples' life, and he was fully as well satisfied that it should
be so.

Just as he was passing the bandstand the educated mule,
with Teddy Tucker on its back, bolted through the curtains
like a projectile. The mule nearly ran over Phil, then brought
up suddenly to launch both heels at him. But the Circus Boy had
seen this same mule in action before, and this time Phil had
discreetly ducked under the bandstand.

Then the mule was off.

"Hi-yi-yi-yip-yi!" howled Teddy, as the outfit bolted into
the arena. The old hands with the show discreetly darted for
cover when they saw Teddy and his mule coming. Like Phil
they had had experience with this same wild outfit before.
There was no knowing what the bucking mule might not do,
while there was a reasonable certainty in their minds as
to what he would do if given half a chance.

"Hi! Hi! Look out!" howled Teddy as they neared the entrance
to the menagerie tent, where a number of people were standing.
The boy saw that the mule had taken it into his stubborn head
to enter the menagerie tent, there to give an exhibition of
his contrariness.

In they swept like a miniature whirlwind, the mule twisting this
way and that, stopping suddenly now and then and bracing its feet
in desperate efforts to unseat its rider.

But Teddy held on grimly. This rough riding was the delight of
his heart, and the lad really was a splendid horseman, though it
is doubtful if he realized this fact himself.

A man was crossing the menagerie tent with a pail of water in
each hand. The mule saw him. Here was an opportunity not to
be lost.

Teddy's mount swept past the fellow. Then both the beast's heels
shot out, catching both the pails at the same time. The two
pails took the air in a beautiful curve, like a pair of rockets,
distributing water all the way across the tent, a liberal portion
of which was spilled over the water carrier as the pails left
his hands.

The man chanced to be Larry, Teddy's enemy. Teddy was traveling
at such a rapid rate that he did not recognize the fellow,
but Larry recognized him, and thereby another account was charged
up against the Circus Boy.

But the mule, though the time limit for his act had expired,
had not quite satisfied his longing for excitement.
Whirling about, he plunged toward the big top again.

"Whoa! Whoa!" howled Teddy, tugging at the reins. But he might
as well have tried to check the wind. Nothing short of a stone
wall could stop the educated mule until he was ready to stop.
The ringmaster had blown his whistle for the next act and the
performers were running to their stations when Teddy and his
mount suddenly made their appearance again.

"Get out of here!" yelled the ringmaster.

"I am trying to do so," howled Teddy in a jeering voice.
"Can't go any faster than I am."

"Stop him! You'll run somebody down!" shouted Mr. Sparling,
dodging out of the way as the mule, with ears laid back on his
head, dashed straight at the showman.

"Can't stop. In a hurry," answered Teddy.

On they plunged past the bandstand again, the mule pausing
at the paddock entrance long enough to kick the silk curtains
into ribbons. Next he made a dive for the dressing tent.

In less time than it takes to tell it, the dressing tent looked
as if it had been struck by a cyclone.

Clubs and side poles were brought down on the rump of the wild
most of which were promptly kicked through the side of the tent.
Teddy, in the meantime, had landed in a performer's trunk,
through the tray, being wedged in so tightly that he could not
extricate himself. Added to the din was Teddy's voice howling
for help.

The performers, in all stages of dress and undress, had fled to
the outside.

Then, the mule becoming suddenly meek, pricked forward his ears,
ambled out into the paddock and began contentedly nibbling at the
fresh grass about the edges of the enclosure.

About this time Mr. Sparling came running in. His face was red
and the perspiration was rolling down it.

"Where's that fool boy?" he bellowed. "Where is he, I say?"

"Here he is," answered the plaintive voice of Teddy Tucker.

"Come out of that!"

"I can't. I'm stuck fast."

The showman jerked him out with scant ceremony, while Teddy began
pulling pieces of the trunk tray out of his clothes.

"Do you want to put my show out of business? What do you think
this is--a cowboy picnic? I'll fire you. I'll--"

"Better fire the mule. I couldn't stop him," answered the boy.

By this time the performers, after making sure that the mule had
gone, were creeping back.

"I'll cut that act out. I'll have the mule shot. I'll--
Get out of here, before I take you over my knee and give you
what you deserve."

"I'm off," grinned Teddy, ducking under the canvas.

He was seen no more about the dressing tent until just before it
was time to go on for the evening performance.



"Where's that boy?"

"He'll catch it if he ever dares show his face in this dressing
tent again."

This and other expressions marked the disapproval of the
performers of the manner in which their enclosure had been
entered and disrupted.

"Don't blame him; blame the mule," advised Mr. Miaco, the
head clown.

"Yes; Teddy wasn't to blame," declared Phil, who had entered at
that moment. "Did he do all this?" he asked, looking about at
the scene of disorder.

"He did. Lucky some of us weren't killed," declared one.
"If that mule isn't cut out of the programme I'll quit
this outfit. Never safe a minute while he and the kid
are around. First, the kid gets us into a scrimmage with the
roustabouts, then he slam bangs into the dressing tent with a
fool mule and puts the whole business out of the running."

"Was Mr. Sparling--was he mad?" asked Phil, laughing until the
tears started.

"Mad? He was red headed," replied Miaco.

"Where's Teddy?"

"He got stuck in the strong man's trunk there. The boss had to
pull him out, for he was wedged fast. Then the young man
prudently made his escape. If the boss hadn't skinned him we
would have done so. He got out just in time."

"Are you Phil Forrest?" asked a uniformed attendant entering the
dressing tent.

"Yes; what is it?"

"Lady wants to see you out in the paddock."

"Who is it?"

"Mrs. Robinson."

"I don't know any Mrs. Robinson."

"He means Little Dimples," Mr. Miaco informed him.


Phil hurried from the tent. Dimples was sitting on a property
industriously engaged on a piece of embroidery work. She made a
pretty picture perched up on the box engaged in her peaceful
occupation with the needle, and the lad stopped to gaze at
her admiringly.

Dimples glanced down with a smile.

"Does it surprise you to see me at my fancy work? That's what
I love. Why, last season, I embroidered a new shirt waist every
week during the show season. I don't know what I'll do with
them all. But come over here and sit down by me. I ought to
thank you for saving my life this afternoon, but I know you would
rather I did not."

Phil nodded.

"I don't like to be thanked. It makes me feel--well, awkward,
I guess. You froze, didn't you?"

"I did," and Dimples laughed merrily.

"What made you do so--the horse?"

"Yes. I thought he was going to fall all the way down,
then by the time I remembered where I was I couldn't turn to save
my life. I heard you call to me to do so, but I couldn't.
But let's talk about you. You hurt your back, didn't you?"

"Nothing to speak of. It will be all right by morning. I'm just
a little lame now. Where were you--what show were you with
last year?"

"The Ringlings."

"The Ringlings?" marveled Phil. "Why, I shouldn't think you
would want to leave a big show like that for a little one such
as this?"

"It's the price, my dear boy. I get more money here, and I'm
a star here. In the big shows one is just a little part of a
big organization. There's nothing like the small shows for
comfort and good fellowship. Don't you think so?"

"I don't know," admitted Phil. "This is the only show I have
ever been with. I 'joined out' last season--"

"Only last season? Well, well! I must say you have made pretty
rapid progress for one who has been out less than a year."

"I have made a lot of blunders," laughed Phil. "But I'm
I wish, though, that I could do a bareback act one quarter as
as you do. I should be very proud if I could."

"Have you ever tried it?"


"Why don't you learn, then? You'd pick it up quickly."

"For the reason that I have never had an opportunity--I've had no
one to teach me."

"Then you shall do so now. Your teacher is before you."

"You--you mean that you will teach me?"

"Of course. What did you think I meant?"

"I--I wasn't sure. That will be splendid."

"I saw your elephant act. You are a very finished performer--
a natural born showman. If you stay in the business long enough
you will make a great reputation for yourself."

"I don't want to be a performer all my life. I am going to own
a show some of these days," announced the boy confidently.

"Oh, you are, are you?" laughed Dimples. "Well, if you say so,
I most surely believe you. You have the right sort of pluck
to get anything you set your heart on. Now if my boy only--"

"Your boy?"

"Yes. Didn't you know that I am a married woman?"

"Oh my, I thought you were a young girl," exclaimed Phil.

"Thank you; that was a very pretty compliment. But, alas, I am
no longer young. I have a son almost as old as you are. He is
with his father, performing at the Crystal Palace in London.
I expect to join them over there after my season closes here."

"Is it possible?"

"Yes, and as my own boy is so far away I shall have to be a sort
of mother to you this season. You have no mother, have you?"

"No. My mother is dead," answered the lad in a low voice,
lowering his eyes.

"I thought as much. Mothers don't like to have their boys join
a circus; but, if they knew what a strict, wholesome life a
circus performer has to lead, they would not be so set against
the circus. Don't you think, taking it all in all, that we are
a pretty good sort?" smiled Dimples.

"I wish everyone were as good as circus folks," the boy made
answer so earnestly as to bring a pleased smile to the face of
his companion.

"You shall have a lesson today for that, if you wish."

"Do I?"

"Then run along and get on your togs. As soon as the performance
is over we will get out my ring horse and put in an hour's work."

"Thank you, thank you!" glowed Phil as Mrs. Robinson rolled up
her work. "I'll be out in a few moments."

Full of pleasurable anticipation, Phil ran to the dressing
tent and began rummaging in his trunk for his working tights.
These he quickly donned and hurried back to the paddock.
There he found Dimples with her ring horse, petting the
broad-backed beast while he nibbled at the grass.

"Waiting, you see?" she smiled up at Forrest.

"Yes. But the performance isn't finished yet, is it?"

"No. The hippodrome races are just going on. Come over to this
side of the paddock, where we shall be out of the way, and I'll
teach you a few first principles."

"What do you want me to do first?"

"Put your foot in my hand and I will give you a lift."

The lad did as directed and sprang lightly to the back of
the gray.

"Move over on the horse's hip. There. Sit over just as
far as you can without slipping off. You saw how I did it
this afternoon?"

"Yes--oh, here I go!"

Phil slid from the sloping side of the ring horse, landing in a
heap, to the accompaniment of a rippling laugh from Dimples.

"I guess I'm not much of a bareback rider," grinned the lad,
picking himself up. "How do you manage to stay on it in
that position?"

"I don't know. It is just practice. You will catch the trick of
it very soon."

"I'm not so sure of that."

"There! Now, take hold of the rein and stand up.
Don't be afraid--"

"I'm not. Don't worry about my being afraid."

"I didn't mean it that way. Move back further. It is not good
to stand in the middle of your horse's back all the time.
Besides throwing too much weight on the back, you are liable to
tickle the animal there and make him nervous. The best work is
done by standing over the horse's hip. That's it. Tread on the
balls of your feet."

But Phil suddenly went sprawling, landing on the ground again,
at which both laughed merrily.

Very shortly after that the show in the big top came to a close.
The concert was now going on, at the end nearest the menagerie
so Phil and Dimples took the ring at the other end of the tent,
where they resumed their practice.

After a short time Phil found himself able to stand erect with
more confidence. Now, his instructor, with a snap of her little
whip, started the gray to walking slowly about the ring, Phil
holding tightly to the bridle rein to steady himself.

"Begin moving about now. Tread softly and lightly. That's it.
You've caught it already."

"Why not put a pad on the horse's back, as I've seen some
performers do?" he questioned.

"No. I don't want you to begin that way. Start without a pad,
and you never will have to unlearn what you get. That's my
I'm going to set him at a gallop now. Stand straight and lean
a little."

The ring horse moved off at a slow, methodical gallop.

Phil promptly fell off, landing outside the ring, from where he
picked himself up rather crestfallen.

"Never mind. You'll learn. You are doing splendidly,"
encouraged Dimples, assisting him to mount again. "There's the
press agent, Mr. Dexter, watching you. Now do your prettiest.
Do you know him?"

"No; I have not met him. He's the fellow that Teddy says blows
up his words with a bicycle pump."

"That's fine. I shall have to tell him that. Remember, you
always want to keep good friends with the press agent. He's the
man who makes or unmakes you after you have passed the eagle eyes
of the proprietor," Dimples laughed. "From what I hear I guess
you stand pretty high with Mr. Sparling."

"I try to do what is right--do the best I know how."

She nodded, clucking to the gray and Phil stopped talking at
once, for he was fully occupied in sticking to the horse,
over whose back he sprawled every now and then in the most
ridiculous of positions. But, before the afternoon's practice
had ended, the lad had made distinct progress. He found himself
able to stand erect, by the aid of the bridle rein, and to keep
his position fairly well while the animal took a slow gallop.
He had not yet quite gotten over the dizziness caused by the
constant traveling about in a circle in the narrow ring,
but Dimples assured him that, after a few more turns, this would
wear off entirely.

After finishing the practice, Dimples led her horse back
to the horse tent, promising Phil that they should meet the
next afternoon.

Phil had no more than changed to his street clothes before he
received a summons to go to Mr. Sparling in his private tent.

"I wonder what's wrong now?" muttered the lad. "But, I think
I know. It's about that row we had this morning out on the lot.
I shouldn't be surprised if I got fined for that."

With a certain nervousness, Phil hurried out around the
dressing tent, and skirting the two big tents, sought out
Mr. Sparling in his office.



The lad was not far wrong in his surmise. That Mr. Sparling was
angry was apparent at the first glance.

He eyed Phil from head to foot, a fierce scowl wrinkling his face
and forehead.

"Well, sir, what have you been up to this afternoon?"

"Practicing in the ring since the afternoon performance closed."

"H-m-m-m! And this forenoon?"

"Not much of anything in the way of work."

"Have any trouble with any of the men?"

"Yes, sir."


"A man by the name of Larry, and another whom they call Bad Eye."

"Humph! I suppose you know it's a bad breach of discipline in a
show to have any mixups, don't you?"

"I do. I make no apologies, except that I was acting wholly in
self defense. All the same, I do not expect any favoritism.
I am willing to take my punishment, whatever it may be," replied
the lad steadily.

There was the merest suspicion of a twinkle in the eyes of
the showman.

"Tell me what you did."

"I punched Larry, tripped his friend, and--well, I don't
exactly know all that did happen," answered Phil without a change
of expression.

"Knock them down?"

"I--I guess so."

"H-m-m. I suppose you know both those fellows are pretty bad
medicine, don't you?"

"I may have heard something of the sort."

"Larry has quite a reputation as a fighter."

"Yes, sir."

"And you knocked him out?"

"Something like that," answered Phil meekly.

"Show me how you did it?" demanded Mr. Sparling, rising and
standing before the culprit.

"It was like this, you see," began Phil, exhibiting a sudden
interest in the inquiry. "I was chased by the two men.
Suddenly I stopped and let the fellow, Larry, fall over me.
During the scrimmage I tripped Bad Eye. I didn't hit anyone
until Larry crowded me so I had to do so in order to save myself,
or else run away."

"Why didn't you run, young man?"

"I--I didn't like to do that, you know."

Mr. Sparling nodded his head.

"How did you hit him?"

"He made a pass at me like this," and the lad lifted
Mr. Sparling's hand over his shoulder. "I came up under his
guard with a short arm jolt like this."

"Well, what next?"

"That was about all there was to it. The others came out,
about that time, and I ducked in under the big top."

To Phil's surprise Mr. Sparling broke out into a roar
of laughter. In a moment he grew sober and stern again.

"Be good enough to tell me what led up to this assault.
What happened before that brought on the row? I can depend
upon you to give me the facts. I can't say as much for all
the others."

Phil did as the showman requested, beginning with the ducking of
Teddy by the men when the show was leaving Germantown, and ending
with Teddy's having emptied a pail of muddy water over Larry's
red head that morning.

He had only just finished his narration of the difficulty,
when who should appear at the entrance to the office tent but
Larry himself. He was followed, a few paces behind, by Bad Eye.

Mr. Sparling's stern, judicial eyes were fixed upon them.
He demanded to hear from them their version of the affair,
which Larry related, leaving out all mention of his having
ducked Teddy. His story agreed in the main details with what
Phil already had said, excepting that Larry's recital threw the
blame on Teddy and Phil.

Mr. Sparling took a book from his desk, making a
memorandum therein.

"Is that all, sir?" questioned Larry.

"Not quite. If I hear of any further infraction of the rules of
this show on the part of either of you two, you close right then.


"That's not all; I'll have you both jailed for assault. As it
is, I'll fine you both a week's pay. Now get out of here!"

Larry hesitated, flashed a malignant glance at Phil Forrest;
then, turning on his heel, he left the tent.

"Don't you think you had better fine me, too, sir?" asked Phil.

"What for?"

"Because I shall have to do it again some of these days."

"What do you mean?"

"That fellow is going to be even with me at the very
first opportunity."

Mr. Sparling eyed the lad for a moment.

"I guess you will be able to give a good account of yourself
if he tries to do anything of the sort. Let me say right here,
though you need not tell your friend so that I think Teddy
did just right, and I am glad you gave Larry a good drubbing.
But, of course, we can't encourage this sort of thing with
the show. It has to be put down with an iron hand."

"I understand, sir."

"Mind, I don't expect you to be a coward."

"I hope not. My father used to teach me not to be.
He frequently said, 'Phil, keep out of trouble, but if you
get into it, don't sneak out.' "

"That's the talk," roared Mr. Sparling, smiting his desk with
a mighty fist. "You run along, now, and give your young friend
some advice about what he may expect if he gets into any
more difficulty."

"I have done that already."

"Good! Tell it to him again as coming from me. He's going to
make a good showman, though he came near putting this outfit out
of business with the fool mule this afternoon. I would cut the
act out, but for the fact that it is a scream from start
to finish. Feeling all right?"

"Yes, thank you. I am perfectly able to go on in the ring act
tonight, if you think best."

"Wait until tomorrow; wait until tomorrow. You'll be all the
better for it."

The cook tent was open, as Phil observed. The red flag was
flying from the center pole of the tent, indicating that supper
was being served. In a short time the tent would come down and
be on its way in the flying squadron to the next stand.

The show was now less than a day out, but many things
had happened. Not a moment had been without its interest or
excitement, and Phil realized that as he walked toward the
cook tent. He found Teddy there, satisfying his appetite, or
rather exerting himself in that direction, for Teddy's appetite
was a thing never wholly satisfied.

After supper Phil took the boy aside and delivered
Mr. Sparling's message. Teddy looked properly serious,
but it is doubtful if the warning sank very deep into his mind,
for the next minute he was turning handsprings on the lot.

"Know what I'm going to do, Phil?" he glowed.

"There's no telling what you will do, from one minute to the
next, Teddy," replied Phil.

"Going to practice up and see if I can't get in the leaping act."

"That's a good idea. When do you begin taking lessons?"

"Taking 'em now."

"From Mr. Miaco?"

"Yes. I did a turn off the springboard this afternoon with the
'mechanic on,' " meaning the harness used to instruct beginners
in the art of tumbling.

"How did you make out?"

"Fine! I'd have broken my neck if it hadn't been for
the harness."

Phil laughed heartily.

"I should say you did do finely. But you don't expect to be able
to jump over ten elephants and horses the way the others do?"

"They don't all do it. Some of 'em leap until they get half a
dozen elephants in line, then they stand off and watch the real
artists finish the act. I can do that part of it now. But I
tell you I'm going to be a leaper, Phil."

"Good for you! That's the way to talk. Keep out of trouble,
work hard, don't talk too much, and you'll beat me yet,"
declared Phil. "And say!"


"Be careful with that mule act tonight. You know Mr. Sparling
will be in there watching you. It wouldn't take much more
trouble to cause him to cut that act out of the programme,
and then you might not be drawing so much salary. Fifty dollars
a week is pretty nice for each of us. If we don't get swelled
heads, but behave ourselves, we'll have a nice little pile of
money by the time the season closes."

"Yes," agreed Teddy. "I guess that's so; but we'll be losing a
lot of fun."

"I don't agree with you," laughed Phil.

The lads strolled into the menagerie tent on their way through to
the dressing tent. The gasoline men were busy lighting their
lamps and hauling them on center and quarter pole, while the
menagerie attendants were turning the tongues of the cages about
so that the horses could be hitched on promptly after the show in
the big top began.

Some of the animals were munching hay, others of the caged beasts
were lying with their noses poked through between the bars of
their cages, blinking drowsily.

"I'd hate to be him," announced Teddy with a comprehensive wave
of the hand as they passed the giraffe, which stood silent in his
roped enclosure, his head far up in the shadows.


"For two reasons. Keeper tells me he can't make a sound.
Doesn't bray, nor whinny, nor growl, nor bark, nor--
can't do anything. I'd rather be a lion or a tiger or
something like that. If I couldn't do anything else, then,
I could stand off and growl at folks."

Phil nodded and smiled.

"And what's your other reason for being glad you are not
a giraffe?"

"Because--because--because when you had a sore throat think what
a lot of neck you'd have to gargle!"

Phil laughed outright, and as the giraffe lowered its head and
peered down into their faces, he thought, for the moment, that he
could see the animal grin.

After this they continued on to the dressing tent, where they
remained until time for the evening performance. This passed off
without incident, Teddy and his mule doing nothing more
sensational than kicking a rent in the ringmaster's coat.

After the show was over, and the tents had begun to come down,
Phil announced his intention of going downtown for a lunch.

"This fresh air makes me hungry. You see, I am not used to it
yet," he explained in an apologetic tone.

"You do not have to go down for a lunch, unless you want to,"
the bandmaster informed him.

"Why, is there a lunch place on the grounds?"

"No. We have an accommodation car on our section."

"What kind of car is that?"

"Lunch car. You can't get a heavy meal there, but you will
find a nice satisfying lunch. The boss has it served at cost.
He doesn't make any money out of the deal. You'll find it on
our section."

"Good! Come along Teddy."

"Will I? That's where I'll spend my money," nodded Teddy,
starting away at a jog trot.

"And your nights too, if they would let you," laughed Phil,
following his companion at a more leisurely gait.

As they crossed the lot they passed "Red" Larry, as he had now
been nicknamed by the showmen. Larry pretended not to see the
boys, but there was an ugly scowl on his face that told Phil he
did, and after the lads had gone on a piece Phil turned, casting
a careless look back where the torches were flaring and men
working and shouting.

"Red" Larry was not working now. He was facing the boys, shaking
a clenched fist at them.

"I am afraid we haven't heard the last of our friend, Larry,"
said Phil.

"Who's afraid?" growled Teddy.

"Neither of us. But all the same we had better keep an eye on
him while we are in his vicinity. We don't want to get into any
more trouble--at least not, if we can possibly avoid it."

"Not till Mr. Sparling forgets about today? Is that it?"

"I guess it is," grinned Phil.

"He might take it seriously?"

"He already has done that. So be careful."

Teddy nodded. But the lads had not yet heard the last of
"Red" Larry.



"Ever try clowning, young man?" asked the Iron-Jawed Man.

Teddy Tucker shook his head.

"Why don't you?"

"Nobody ever asked me."

"Then you had better ask the boss to let you try it. Tell him
you want to be a clown and that we will take you in and put you
through your paces until you are able to go it alone."

The show had been on the road for nearly two weeks now, and every
department was working like a piece of well-oiled machinery.
The usual number of minor disasters had befallen the outfit
during the first week, but now everything was system and method.
The animals had become used to the constant moving, and to the
crowds and the noise, so that their growls of complaint were few.

In that time Teddy and Phil had been going through their act on
the flying rings daily, having shown great improvement since they
closed with the show the previous fall. Their winter's work had
proved of great benefit, and Mr. Sparling had complimented them
several times lately.

Teddy was now devoting all his spare time to learning to
somersault and do the leaping act from the springboard.
He could, by this time, turn a somersault from the board,
though his landing was less certain. Any part of his anatomy
was liable to sustain the impact of his fall, but he fell in so
many ludicrous positions that the other performers let it go at
that, for it furnished them much amusement.

However, Teddy's unpopularity in the dressing tent had been
apparent ever since he and the educated mule had made their
sensational entry into that sacred domain, practically wrecking
the place. Teddy and his pet had come near doing the same thing
twice since, and the performers were beginning to believe there
was method in Tucker's madness.

It had come to the point where the performers refused to remain
in the dressing tent while Teddy and the mule were abroad,
unless men with pike poles were stationed outside to ward off
the educated mule when he came in from the ring. But Teddy
didn't care. The lad was interested in the suggestion of the
Iron-Jawed Man. Had he known that the suggestion had been made
after secret conference of certain of the performers, Tucker
might have felt differently about it. There was something in the
air, but the Circus Boy did not know it.

"What kind of clown act would you advise me to get up?" he asked.

"Oh, you don't have to get it up. We'll do that for you.
In fact, there is one act that most all clowns start with, and
it will do as well as anything else for you. You see, you have
to get used to being funny, or you'll forget yourself, and then
you're of no further use as a clown."

"Yes, I know; but what is the act?"

"What do you say, fellows--don't you think the human football
would fit him from the sawdust up?"

"Just the thing," answered the performers thus appealed to.

Mr. Miaco, the head clown, was bending over his trunk, his sides
shaking with laughter, but Teddy did not happen to observe him,
nor had he noticed that the head clown had had no part in
the conversation.

"The human football?" questioned Teddy dubiously.


"What's that?"

"Oh, you dress up in funny makeup so you look like a huge ball."

"But what do I do after I have become a football?"

"Oh, you roll around in the arena, falling all over yourself and
everybody who happens to get in your way; you bounce up and down
and make all sorts of funny--"

"Oh, I know," cried Teddy enthusiastically. "I saw a fellow do
that in a show once. He would fall on the ground on his back,
then bounce up into the air several feet."

"You've hit it," replied a clown dryly.

"I remember how all the people laughed and shouted. I'll bet I'd
make a hit doing that."

"You would!" shouted the performers in chorus.

The show was playing in Batavia, New York, on a rainy night,
with rather a small house expected, so no better time could have
been chosen for Teddy's first appearance as a clown.

"Had I better speak to Mr. Sparling about it?"

"Well, what do you think, fellows?"

"Oh, no, no! The old man won't care. If you make them laugh,
he'll be tickled half to death."

"What do you say? Is it a go, Tucker?"

"Well, I'll think about it."

Teddy strolled out in the paddock, where he walked up and down a
few times in the rain. But the more he thought about the
proposition, the more enthusiastic he grew. He could see himself
the center of attraction, and he could almost hear the howls of
delight of the multitude.

"They'll be surprised. But I don't believe I had better go on
without first speaking to Mr. Sparling. He might discharge me.
He's had his eye on me ever since the mule tore up the
dressing tent. But I won't tell Phil. I'll just give him
a surprise. How he'll laugh when he sees me and finds out
who I am."

Thus deciding, the lad ran through the tents out to the front
door, where he asked for Mr. Sparling, knowing that by this time
the owner's tent had been taken down and packed for shipment,
even if it were not already under way on the flying squadron.

He learned that Mr. Sparling was somewhere in the menagerie tent.
Hurrying back there, Teddy soon came upon the object of
his search. At that moment he was standing in front of the cage
of Wallace, the biggest lion in captivity, gazing at that shaggy
beast thoughtfully.

"Mr. Sparling," called Teddy.

The showman turned, shooting a sharp glance at the flushed face
of the Circus Boy.

"Well, what's wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong, sir."

"Come to kick about feed in the cook tent?"

"Oh, no, no, sir! Nothing like that. I've come to ask a favor
of you."

"Humph! I thought as much. Well, what is it?"

"I--I think I'd like to be a clown, sir."

"A clown?" asked the showman, with elevated eyebrows.

"Yes, sir."

Mr. Sparling laughed heartily.

"Why, you're that already. You are a clown, though you may not
know it. You've been a clown ever since you wore long dresses,
I'll wager."

"But I want to be a real one," urged Teddy.

"What kind of clown?"

"I thought I'd like to be a human football." This time
Mr. Sparling glanced at the boy in genuine surprise.

"A human football?"

"Yes, sir."

"What put that idea into your head?"

"Some of the fellows suggested it."

"Ah! I thought so," twinkled Mr. Sparling. "Who, may I ask?"

"Well, I guess most all of them did."

"I know, but who suggested it first?"

"I think the Iron-Jawed Man was the first to say that I ought to
be a clown. He thought I would make a great hit."

"No doubt, no doubt," snapped the showman in a tone that led
Teddy to believe he was angry about something.

"May I?"

Mr. Sparling reflected a moment, raised his eyes and gazed at the
dripping roof of the menagerie tent.

"When is this first appearance to be made, if I may ask?"

"Oh, tonight. The fellows said it would be a good time, as there
would not be a very big house."

"Oh, they did, eh? Well, go ahead. But remember you do it at
your own risk."

"Thank you."

Teddy was off for the dressing room on a run.

"I'm It," he cried, bursting in upon them.

"Get the suit," commanded a voice. "He's It."

Somebody hurried to the property room, returning with a full
rubber suit, helmet and all. As yet it was merely a bundle.
They bade Teddy get into it, all hands crowding about him,
offering suggestions and lending their assistance.

"My, I didn't know I was so popular here," thought the lad,
pleased with these unusual attentions. "They must think I'm the
real thing. I'll show them I am, too."

"Get the pump," directed the Iron-Jawed Man.

A bicycle pump was quickly produced, and, opening a valve, one of
the performers began pumping air into the suit.

"Here, what are you doing?" demanded Teddy.

"Blowing you up--"

"Here, I don't want to be blown up."

"With a bicycle pump," added the performer, grinning through the
powder and grease paint on his face.

"Say, you ought to use that on the press agent!"

The performers howled at this sally.

Teddy began to swell out of all proportion to his natural size,
as the bicycle pump inflated his costume. In a few moments
he had grown so large that he could not see his own feet,
while the hood about his head left only a small portion of his
face visible.

"Monster!" hissed a clown, shaking a fist in Teddy's face.

"I guess I am. I'd make a hit as the Fattest Boy on Earth in
this rig, wouldn't I? I'll bet the Living Skeleton will be
jealous when he sees me."

"There, I guess he's pumped up," announced the operator of the
bicycle pump.

"Try it and see," suggested a voice.

"All right."

Teddy got a resounding blow that flattened him on the ground.
But before he could raise his voice in protest he had bounded to
his feet, and someone caught him, preventing his going right on
over the other way.

The performers howled with delight.

"He'll do. He'll do," they shouted.

"Don't you do that again," warned the boy, a little dazed.

The time was at hand for the clowns to make their own
grand entry.

"Come on, that's our cue!" shouted one, as the band struck up a
new tune.

"I--I can't run. I'm too fat."

"We'll help you."

And they did. With a clown on either side of him, Teddy was
rushed through the silk curtains and out past the bandstand, his
feet scarcely touching the ground. Part of the time the clowns
were half dragging him, and at other times carrying him.

At first the audience did not catch the significance of it.
Straight for ring No. 1 Tucker's associates rushed him.
But just as they reached the ring they let go of him.

Of course Teddy fell over the wooden ring curbing, and went
rolling and bouncing into the center of the sawdust arena.
Phil had made his change in the menagerie tent after finishing
his elephant act, and was just entering the big top as Teddy
made his sensational entrance. He caught sight of his companion
at once.

"Who's that?" he asked of Mr. Sparling, who was standing at the
entrance with a broad grin on his face.

"That, my dear Phil, is your very good friend, Mr. Teddy Tucker."

"Teddy? You don't mean it?"

"Yes; he has decided to be a clown, and I guess he is on the way.
The people are kicking on the seats and howling."

"I should judge, from appearances, that the other clowns
were getting even more entertainment out of his act than
is the audience."

"It certainly looks that way. But let them go. It will do
Master Teddy a whole lot of good."

A clown jumped to the ring curbing and made a speech about the
wonderful human football, announcing at the same time that the
championship game was about to be played.

Then they began to play in earnest. Some had slapsticks,
others light barrel staves, and with these they began to belabor
the human football, each blow being so loud that it could be
heard all over the tent. Of course the blows did not hurt
Teddy at all, but the bouncing and buffeting that he got aroused
his anger.

One clown would pick the lad up and throw him to a companion,
who, in turn, would drop him. Then the audience would yell
with delight as the ball bounced to an upright position again.
This the clowns kept up until Teddy did not know whether he were
standing on his feet or his head. The perspiration was rolling
down his face, getting into his eyes and blinding him.

"Quit it!" he howled.

"Maybe you'll ride the educated mule through the dressing
tent again?" jeered a clown.

"Bring the mule out and let him knock the wind out of the
rubber man!" suggested another.

"How do you like being a clown?"

This and other taunts were shouted at the rubber man, Teddy
meanwhile expressing himself with unusual vehemence.

Mr. Sparling had in the meantime sent a message back to
the paddock. He was holding his sides with laughter, while
Phil himself was leaning against a quarter pole shouting
with merriment.

Suddenly there came the sound of a clanging gong, interspersed
with shouts from the far end of the tent.

The spectators quickly glanced in that direction, and they saw
coming at a rapid rate the little patrol wagon drawn by four
diminutive ponies, the outfit so familiar to the boys who attend
the circus.

The clowns were surprised when they observed it, knowing that the
patrol was not scheduled to enter at this time. Their surprise
was even greater when the wagon dashed up and stopped where they
were playing their game of football. Three mock policemen leaped
out and rushed into the thick of the mock game.

As they did so they hurled the clowns right and left, standing
some of them on their heads and beating them with their clubs,
which, in this instance, proved to be slapsticks, that made a
great racket.

This was a part of the act that the clowns had not arranged.
It was a little joke that the owner of the show was playing
on them. Quick to seize an opportunity to make a hit, Sparling
had ordered out the show patrol, and the audience, catching
the significance of it, shouted, swinging their hats
and handkerchiefs.

The three policemen, after laying the clowns low, grabbed the
helpless human football by the heels, dragging him to the wagon
and dumping him in. They dropped the human football in so
heavily that it bounced out again and hit the ground. The next
time, as they threw Teddy in, one of the officers sat on him to
hold him.

The gong set up an excited clanging, and the ponies began racing
around the arena the long way, and took the stretch to the
paddock at a terrific speed, with the howls of the multitude
sounding in their ears.

Reaching the dressing tent, the mock policemen let the air out
of the rubber ball, whereat Teddy sat down heavily in a pail
of water.

The performers danced around Tucker, singing an improvised song
about the human football. Gradually the angry scowl on the face
of the Circus Boy relaxed into a broad grin.

"How do you like being a clown now?" jeered the Iron-Jawed Man.

"Yes; how does it feel to be a football?" questioned another.

"I guess you got even with me that time," answered Teddy
good-naturedly. "But say, that's easy compared with riding
the educated mule."



The great white billows of the Sparling Combined Shows were
moving steadily across the continent. The receipts had exceeded
Mr. Sparling's most sanguine expectations, and he was in great
good humor.

Only one unpleasant incident had happened and that occurred at
Franklin, Indiana. Phil and Teddy, while on their way to their
car after the performance late at night, had been set upon by two
men and quite severely beaten, though both lads had given a good
account of themselves and finally driven off their assailants.

They did not report their experience to Mr. Sparling until the
next morning, having gone directly to their car and put
themselves to bed after having been fixed up with plasters and
bandages by some of their companions. The next morning neither
lad was particularly attractive to look at. However, bearing the
taunts of the show people good-naturedly, they started for the
cook tent just as they were in the habit of doing every day.

But Mr. Sparling had seen them as they passed his car on
their way.

"Now, I wonder what those boys have been up to?" he scowled,
watching their receding forms thoughtfully. "I'll find out."

And he did. He summoned the lads to his office in the tent soon
after breakfast.

"I expected you would send for us," grinned Phil, as he walked in
with Teddy.

"What about it? You are both sights!"

"Grease paint and powder will cover it up, I guess,
Mr. Sparling."

"I'll hear how it happened."

"I can't tell you much about it," said Phil. "We were on our way
to the car when a couple of men suddenly jumped out from a fence
corner and went at us hammer and tongs. That's when we got these
beauty spots. If we had seen the fellows coming we might not
have been hit at all."

"Wait a minute; where did this occur?" demanded the showman.

"Just outside the lot at Franklin. It was very dark there, and,
as you know, the sky was overcast."

"Did you know the men--had you ever seen them before?"

"I couldn't say as to that."

"No, sir; we couldn't say," added Teddy, nodding.

Mr. Sparling turned a cold eye upon Tucker.

"I haven't asked for remarks from you, young man. When I do you
may answer."

Teddy subsided for the moment.

"But, had it been anyone you knew, you must have recognized
their voices."

"They didn't say a word. Just pitched into us savagely. I think
they might have done us serious injury had we not defended
ourselves pretty well."

"It occurs to me that you were rather roughly handled as it was,"
said the showman, with a suspicion of a grin on his face.
"Doctor fixed you up, I suppose?"

"Oh, no; it wasn't so bad as that."

"Have you any suspicion--do you think it was any of the
show people?" demanded Mr. Sparling, eyeing Phil penetratingly.

"I don't know. Here is a button I got from the coat of one of
the men. That may serve to identify him if he is one of our men.
I haven't had a chance to look around this morning."

The showman quickly stretched forth his hand for the button,
which he examined curiously.

"And here's a collar, too," chuckled Teddy.

"A collar? Where did you get that, young man?"

"Oh, I just yanked it off the other fellow. Guess it hasn't been
to the laundry this season."

Mr. Sparling leaned back and laughed heartily.

"Between you, you boys will be the ruination of me. You take my
mind off business so that I don't know what I'm about half of
the time. But I can't get along without you. I'll look into
this matter," he went on more gravely. "Tell the boss canvasman
to send Larry and Bad Eye to me."

"Yes, sir."

The lads delivered the message.

Mr. Sparling's eyes twinkled as these two worthies sneaked
into his tent, each with a hangdog expression on his face.
"Red" Larry had a black eye, while Bad Eye's nose appeared
to have listed to one side.

The showman glanced at Larry's coat, then at the button in his
own hand. He nodded understandingly. Bad Eye was collarless.

"Here's a button that I think you lost off your coat last night,
Larry," smiled Mr. Sparling sweetly. "And, Bad Eye, here's
your collar. Better send it to the washerwoman."

The men were speechless for the moment.

"Go to the boss, both of you, and get your time. Then I want you
to clear out of here."

"Wha--what--we ain't done nothing," protested Larry.

"And you had better not. If I see you about the circus lot again
this season, I'll have you both in the nearest jail quicker than
you can say 'scat!' Understand? Get out of here!"

The showman half rose from his chair, glaring angrily at them.
His good-nature had suddenly left him, and the canvasmen, knowing
what they might expect from the wrathful showman, stood not upon
the order of their going. They ran.

Larry had left some of his belongings behind a cage in the
menagerie tent, and he headed directly for that place to get it
out and foot it for the village before Mr. Sparling should
discover him on the grounds.

In going after his bundle Larry was obliged to pass the elephant
station, where the elephants were taking their morning baths,
throwing water over their backs from tubs that had been placed
before them. A pail full of water had been left near old
Emperor's tub by the keeper, because the tub would hold no more.

Emperor apparently had not observed it, nor did he seem to
see the red-headed canvasman striding his way. Mr. Kennedy,
the keeper, was at the far end of the line sweeping off the baby
elephant with a broom, while Phil and Teddy were sitting on a
pile of straw back of Emperor discussing their experience the
previous evening.

"There's Red," said Teddy, pointing.

"Yes, and he seems to be in a great hurry about something.
I'll bet Mr. Sparling has discharged him. I'm sorry. I hate
to see anybody lose his job, but I guess Red deserves it if
anybody does. He's one of the fellows that attacked us

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