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

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last night. I haven't the least doubt about that."

"Yes, and he's got a button off his coat, too," added Teddy,
peering around Emperor. "What I want now is to see a fellow with
his collar torn off. I got a tent stake here by me that I'd like
to meet him with."

"You would do nothing of the sort, Teddy Tucker! Hello, what's
going on there?"

As Larry passed swiftly in front of Emperor, the old elephant's
trunk suddenly wrapped itself about the pail of water unobserved
by the discharged canvasman.

Emperor lifted the pail on high, quickly twisted it bottom side
up and jammed it down over the head of Larry. The latter went
down under the impact and before he could free himself from the
pail and get up, Emperor had performed the same service for him
with the tub of water.

Under the deluge Red Larry was yelling and choking, making
desperate efforts to get up. He struggled free in a moment,
and in his blind rage he hurled the empty pail full in Emperor's
face, following it with a blow over the animal's trunk with a
tent stake.

It was the elephant's turn to be angry now. He did not take into
consideration that it was he that was to blame for the assault.
Stretching out his trunk, he encircled the waist of the yelling
canvasman, and, raising him on high, dashed him to the ground
almost under his ponderous feet.

Phil had risen about the time the tub came down. At first he
laughed; but when the elephant caught his victim, the lad knew
that the situation was critical.

"Emperor! Down!" he shouted.

It was then that the elephant cast Red under his feet.

Phil darted forward just as a ponderous foot was raised to
trample the man to death. Without the least sense of fear the
lad ran in under Emperor, and, grabbing Larry by the heels,
dragged him quickly out.

The elephant was furious at the loss of his prey, and, raising
his trunk, trumpeted his disapproval, straining at his chains and
showing every sign of dangerous restlessness.

After getting Larry out of harm's way, Phil sprang fearlessly
toward his elephant friend.

"Quiet, Emperor, you naughty boy!" Forrest chided. "Don't you
know you might have killed him? I wouldn't want anything to do
with you if you had done a thing like that."

Gradually the great beast grew quiet and his sinuous trunk sought
out the Circus Boy's pockets in search of sweets, of which there
was a limited supply.

While this was going on Mr. Kennedy, the keeper, had hurried
up and dashed a pail of water into the face of the now
unconscious Larry. By this time Larry was well soaked down.
He could not have been more so had he fallen in a mill pond.
But the last bucketful brought him quickly to his senses.

"You--you'll pay for this," snarled Larry, shaking his fist at
Phil Forrest.

"Why, I didn't do anything, Larry," answered the lad
in amazement.

"You did. You set him on to me."

"That'll be about all from you, Mr. Red Head," warned Kennedy.
"The kid didn't do anything but save your life. I wouldn't
let a little thing like that trouble me if I were you.
You've been doing something to that bull, or he'd never have
used you like that. Why, Emperor is as gentle as a young kitten.
He wouldn't hurt a fly unless the fly happened to bite him
too hard. Phil, did you see that fellow do anything to him?"

Phil shook his head.

"Not now. He may have at some other time."

"That's it!"

Just then Mr. Sparling came charging down on the scene, having
heard of the row out at the front door.

Larry saw him coming. He decided not to argue the question any
further, but started on a run across the tent, followed by the
showman, who pursued him with long, angry strides. But Larry
ducked under the tent and got away before his pursuer could
reach him, while Phil and Teddy stood holding their sides
with laughter.



Two days had passed and nothing more had been seen of the
discharged canvasmen. Believing they were well rid of them
all hands proceeded to forget about the very existence of Larry
and Bad Eye.

As Phil was passing the roped-off enclosure where the elephants
were tethered, the next morning just before the parade, he saw
Mr. Kennedy regarding one of the elephants rather anxiously.

"What's the trouble? Anything gone wrong?" sang out the
lad cheerily.

"Not yet," answered the keeper without turning his head.

"Something is bothering you or else you are planning out
something new for the bulls," decided Phil promptly.
"What is it?"

"I don't like the way Jupiter is acting."


"He is ugly."

Phil ducked under the ropes and boldly walked over toward the
swaying beast.

"Better keep away from him. He isn't to be trusted today."

"Going to send him out in the parade?"

"Haven't decided yet. I may think it best to leave Jupiter here
with perhaps the baby elephant for company. He would cut up, I'm
afraid, were I to leave him here alone. No; I think, upon second
thought, that we had better take him out. It may take his mind
from his troubles."

"What do you think is the matter with him?" questioned the
Circus Boy, regarding the beast thoughtfully.

"That's what bothers me. He has never acted this way before.
Usually there are some signs that I told you about once before
that tells one an elephant is going bad."

"You mean the tear drops that come out from the slit under
the eye?"

"Yes. There has been nothing of that sort with Jupiter."

"He acts to me as if he had a bad stomach," suggested
Phil wisely.

"That's right. That expresses it exactly. I guess we'll have to
give him a pill to set him straight. But Jupiter never was much
of a hand for pills. He'll object if we suggest it."

"Then don't suggest it. Just give it to him in his food."

"You can't fool him," answered Mr. Kennedy, with a shake of
the head. "He'd smell it a rod away, and that would make him
madder than ever. The best way is to make him open his mouth and
throw the pill back as far as possible in his throat."

"Have you told Mr. Sparling?"

"No. He doesn't like to be bothered with these little things.
He leaves that all to me. It's a guess, though, as to just
what to do under these conditions. No two cases, any more
than any two elephants, are alike when it comes to disposition
and treatment."

"No; I suppose not."

"Where are you going now, Phil?"

"Going back to the dressing tent to get ready for the parade.
Hope you do not have any trouble."

"No; I guess I shan't. I can manage to hold him, and if I don't,
I'll turn Emperor loose. He makes a first-rate policeman."

Phil hurried on to the dressing tent, for he was a little late
this morning, for which he was not wholly to blame, considerable
time having been lost in his interview with Mr. Sparling.

In the hurry of preparation for the parade, Phil forgot all about
Mr. Kennedy's concern over Jupiter. But he was reminded of it
again when he rode out to fall in line with the procession.
Mr. Kennedy and his charges, all well in hand, were just
emerging from the menagerie tent to take their places for
the parade. Jupiter was among them. He saw, too, that
Mr. Kennedy was walking by Jupiter's side, giving him almost
his exclusive attention.

Phil's place in the parade this season was with a body of
German cavalry. He wore a plumed hat, with a gaudy uniform and
rode a handsome bay horse, one of the animals used in the running
race at the close of the circus. Phil had become very proficient
on horseback and occasionally had entered the ring races, being
light enough for the purpose. He had also kept up his bareback
practice, under the instruction of Dimples, until he felt quite
proud of his achievements.

Vincennes, where the show was to exhibit that day, was a large
town, and thousands of people had turned out to view the parade
which had been extensively advertised as one of the greatest
features ever offered to the public.

"They seem to like it," grinned Phil, turning to the rider
beside him.

"Act as if they'd never seen a circus parade before," answered
the man. "But wait till we get out in some of the way-back towns
in the West."

"I thought we were West now?"

"Not until we get the other side of the Mississippi, we won't be.
They don't call Indiana West. We'll be getting there pretty
soon, too. According to the route card, we are going to make
some pretty long jumps from this on."

"We do not go to Chicago, do we?"

"No. Show's not quite big enough for that town. We go south of
it, playing some stands in Illinois, then striking straight west.
Hello, what's the row up ahead there?"

"What row, I didn't see anything."

"Something is going on up there. See! The line is breaking!"

The part of the parade in which Phil was located was well up
toward the elephants, the animals at that moment having turned
a corner, moving at right angles to Phil's course.

"It's the elephants!" cried the lad aghast.

"What's happening?"

"They have broken the line!"

All was confusion at the point on which the two showmen had
focused their eyes.

"It's a stampede, I do believe!" exclaimed Phil. "I wonder where
Mr. Kennedy is? I don't see him anywhere."

"There! They're coming this way."

"What, the elephants? Yes, that's so. Oh, I'm afraid somebody
will be killed."

"If there hasn't already been," growled Phil's companion.
"I'm going to get out of this while I have the chance. I've seen
elephants on the rampage before." Saying which, the showman
turned his horse and rode out of the line. His example was
followed by many of the others.

People were screaming and rushing here and there, horses
neighing, and the animals in the closed cages roaring in a
most terrifying way.

Phil pulled his horse up short, undecided what to do. He had
never seen a stampede before, but desperate as the situation
seemed, he felt no fear.

The elephants, with lowered heads, were charging straight ahead.
Now Phil saw that which seemed to send his heart right up into
his throat.

Little Dimples had been riding in a gayly bedecked two-wheeled
cart, drawn by a prancing white horse. Dressed in white from
head to foot, she looked the dainty creature that she was.

Dimples, seeing what had happened, had wheeled her horse
quickly out of line, intending to turn about and drive back along
the line. It would be a race between the white horse and the
elephants, but she felt sure she would be able to make it and
turn down a side street before the stampeding herd reached her.

She might have done so, had it not been for one unforeseen
As she dashed along a rider, losing his presence of mind, if
he had had any to lose, drove his horse directly in front of her.
The result was a quick collision, two struggling horses lying
kicking in the dust of the street, and a white-robed figure lying
stretched out perilously near the flying hoofs.

The force of the collision had thrown Little Dimples headlong
from her seat in the two wheeled cart, and there she lay,
half-dazed with the herd of elephants thundering down upon her.

Phil took in her peril in one swift glance.

"She'll be killed! She'll be killed!" he cried, all the color
suddenly leaving his face.

All at once he drove the rowels of his spurs against the sides of
his mount. The animal sprang away straight toward the oncoming
herd, but Phil had to fight every inch of the way to keep the
horse from turning about and rushing back, away from the peril
that lay before it.

The lad feared he would not be able to reach Dimples in time,
but with frequent prods of spur and crop, uttering little
encouraging shouts to the frightened horse, he dashed on,
dodging fleeing showmen and runaway horses at almost every jump.

He forged up beside the girl at a terrific pace. But, now that
he was there, the lad did not dare dismount, knowing that
were he to do so, his horse would quickly break away from him,
thus leaving them both to be crushed under the feet of the
ponderous beasts.

It was plain to Phil that Jupiter must have gone suddenly bad,
and, starting on a stampede, had carried the other bulls
with him. And he even found himself wondering if anything
had happened to his friend Kennedy, the elephant trainer.
If Kennedy were on his feet he would be after them.

As it was, no one appeared to be chasing the runaway beasts.

Phil leaned far from the saddle grasping the woman by her
flimsy clothing. It gave way just as he had begun to lift her,
intending to pull her up beside him on the horse's back.

Twice he essayed the feat, each time with the same result.
The bay was dancing further away each time, and the elephants
were getting nearer. The uproar was deafening, which, with
the trumpetings of the frightened elephants, made the stoutest
hearts quail.

With a grim determination Forrest once more charged alongside
of Dimples. As he did so she opened her eyes, though Phil did
not observe this, else he might have acted differently.

As it was he threw himself from the bay while that animal was
still on the jump. Keeping tight hold of the saddle pommel,
the reins bunched in the hand that grasped it, Phil dropped down.
When he came up, Dimples was on his arm.

He then saw that she was herself again.

"Can you hold on if I get you up?"

"Yes. You're a good boy."

Phil made no reply, but, with a supreme effort, threw the girl
into the saddle. To do so he was obliged to let go the pommel
and the reins for one brief instant. But he succeeded in
throwing Dimples up to the saddle safely, where she quickly
secured herself.

The bay was off like a shot, leaving Phil directly in front of
the oncoming elephants.

"Run! I'll come back and get you," shouted Dimples over
her shoulder.

"You can't. The reins are over the bay's head," he answered.

She was powerless to help. Dimples realized this at once.
She was in no danger herself. She was such a skillful rider that
it made little difference whether the reins were in her hand or
on the ground, so far as maintaining her seat was concerned.
With Phil, however, it was different.

"I guess I might as well stand still and take it," muttered the
lad grimly.

He turned, facing the mad herd, a slender but heroic figure in
that moment of peril.



"Get back!" shouted the boy.

He had descried Teddy Tucker driving his own mount toward him.
Teddy was coming to the rescue in the face of almost
certain death.

"You can't make it! Go back!"

Whether or not Teddy heard and understood, did not matter,
for at that moment the view of the plucky lad was shut off
by the elephants forming their charging line into crescent shape.

"Emperor!" he called in a shrill penetrating voice. But in the
dust of the charge he could not make out which one was Emperor,
yet he continued calling lustily.


Phil threw his hands above his head as was his wont when desirous
of having the old elephant pick him up.

Right across the center of the crescent careened a great hulking
figure, uttering loud trumpetings--trumpetings that were taken up
by his companions until the very ground seemed to shake.

Phil's back was half toward the big elephant, and in the noise he
did not distinguish a familiar note in the call.

All at once he felt himself violently jerked from the ground.
The lad was certain that his time had come. But out of that
cloud of dust, in which those who looked, believed that the
little Circus Boy had gone down to his death, Phil Forrest
rose right up into the air and was dropped unharmed to the back
of old Emperor.

For the moment he was so dizzy that he was unable to make up his
mind what had happened or where he was. Then it all came to him.
He was on Emperor's back.

"Hurrah!" shouted Phil. "Good old Emperor! Steady, steady,
That's a good fellow."

He patted the beast's head with the flat of his hand, crooned to
him, using every artifice that he knew to quiet the nerves of his
big friend.

Little by little Emperor appeared to come out of his fright,
until the lad felt almost certain that the big beast would
take orders. He tried the experiment.

"Left, Emperor!"

The elephant swerved sharply to the left, aided by a sharp tap of
the riding crop which Phil still carried.

Phil uttered a little cry of exultation.

"Now, if I can head them off!"

With this in mind he gradually worked Emperor around until the
herd had been led into a narrow street. Here, Phil began forcing
his mount back and forth across the street in an effort to check
the rush of the stampede, all the time calling out the command to
slow down, which he had learned from Mr. Kennedy.

He was more successful than he had even dreamed he could be.

"Now, if I am not mistaken, that street beyond there leads out to
the lot. I'll see if I can make them go that way."

All did save Jupiter, who charged straight ahead for some
distance, then turning sharply tore back and joined his fellows.

"If I had a hook I believe I could lead him. He's a very
bad elephant. I hope nobody has been killed."

It was more quiet in the street where Forrest now found himself,
and by degrees the excitement that had taken possession of the
huge beasts began to wear off.

Phil uttered his commands to them in short, confident tones,
all the time drawing nearer and nearer to the circus lot.

Very soon the fluttering flags from the big top were seen above
the intervening housetops.

"I'm going to win--oh, I hope I do!" breathed the Circus Boy.

With rapid strides, at times merging into a full run, the beasts
tore along, now understanding that they were nearing their
quarters, where safety and quiet would be assured.

And, beyond that, it was time for their dinners. Already bales
of hay had been placed in front of their quarters, and the
elephants knew it.

As the procession burst into the circus lot a dozen attendants
started on a run toward them.

"Keep off!" shouted Phil. "Do you want to stampede them again?
Keep away, I tell you and I'll get them home. Drive all the
people out of the way in case the bulls make another break.
That's all you can do now."

Now young Forrest urged Emperor to the head of the line of
bobbing beasts, feeling sure that the others would follow him
in now.

They did. The whole line of elephants swept in through the
opening that the attendants had quickly made by letting down
a section of the side walls of the menagerie tent, with Phil
Forrest a proud and happy boy, perched on the head of
old Emperor.


He went at it with all the confidence and skill of a professional
elephant trainer.


Each beast walked to his regular place, a dozen sinuous trunks
gathering up as many wisps of hay.

"Back up! Back, Jupiter!"

As docile as if they never had left the tent, each huge beast
slowly felt his way into his corner.

"Good boy, Emperor!" glowed Phil holding out a small bag of
peanuts, which Emperor quickly stowed away in his mouth bag
and all.

"You greedy fellow! Now get back into your own corner!"

The elephant did so.

"You fellows keep away from here," warned Phil as the anxious
tent men began crowding around him. "Don't let anybody get these
big fellows excited. We've had trouble enough for one day."

Phil then began chaining down the beasts, his first care being to
secure the unruly Jupiter. But Jupiter's fit of bad temper
seemed to have left him entirely. He was as peaceful as could
be, and, to show that he was good, he showered a lot of hay all
over Phil.

"You bad, bad boy!" chided the lad. "All this is just because
you let your temper get the best of you. I think perhaps
Mr. Sparling may have something to say to you if anyone
has been killed or seriously hurt. Oh, you want some peanuts,
do you? I haven't any, but I'll get you some, though goodness
knows you don't deserve any. Bring me some peanuts, will
you please?"

An attendant came running with a bag of them. Phil met him
halfway, not wishing the man to approach too near. With the bag
in his hand the boy walked slowly down the line, giving to each
of his charges a small handful.

This was the final act in subduing them. They were all
thoroughly at home and perfectly contented now, and Phil
had chained the last one down, except the baby elephant,
that usually was left free to do as it pleased, providing it did
not get too playful.

At this moment Phil heard a great shouting out on the lot.

"Go out there and stop that noise!" the boy commanded. He was as
much in charge of the show at that moment as if he had been the
proprietor himself.

Shortly after that Mr. Kennedy came rushing in on one of the
circus ponies that he had taken from a parade rider. Phil was
delighted to see that the keeper was uninjured.

"Did you do this, Phil Forrest?" he shouted bursting in.

"Yes. But I'll have to do it all over again if you keep on
yelling like that. What happened to you?"

"Jupiter threw me over a fence, into an excavation where they
were digging for a new building. I thought I was dead, but after
a little I came to and crawled out. It was all over but the
shouting then."

"Did you know I had them?"

"No; not until I got near the lot. I followed their tracks
you see. Finally some people told me a kid was leading the herd
back here. I knew that was you. Phil Forrest, you are a dandy.
I can't talk now! I'm too winded. I'll tell you later on what I
think of your kind. Now I'm going to whale the daylights out of
that Jupiter."

"Please don't do anything of the sort," begged Phil. "He is
quiet now. He has forgotten all about it. I am afraid if you
try to punish him you will only make him worse."

"Good elephant sense," emphasized the keeper. "You ought to be
on the animals."

"It seems to me that I have been pretty well on them today,"
grinned the lad. "Oh, was anybody killed?"

"I think not. Don't believe anyone was very seriously hurt.
You see, that open lot there gave the people plenty of chance
to see what was coming. They had plenty of time to get away
after that."

"I'm so glad. I hope no one was killed."

"Reckon there would have been if you hadn't got busy when
you did."

"Have you seen Mrs. Robinson? I'm rather anxious about her."

"There she is now."

Dimples had changed her torn white dress for a short riding
skirt, and when Phil turned about she was running toward him
with outstretched arms. He braced himself and blushed violently.

"Oh, you dear," cried the impulsive little equestrienne, throwing
both arms about Phil's neck. "I wish my boy could have seen you
do that! It was splendid. You're a hero! You'll see what a
craze the people will make of you--"

"I--I think they are more likely to chase us out of town,"
laughed Phil. "We must have smashed up things pretty
thoroughly downtown."

"Never mind; Mr. Sparling will settle the damage. The only
trouble will be that he won't have anyone to scold. You saved
the day, Phil, and you saved me as well. Of course I'm not much,
but I value my precious little life just as highly as the next
one--I mean the next person."

"The bay ran away with you, didn't he?"

"I suppose that's what some people would call it. It would have
been a glorious ride if it hadn't been that I expected you were
being trampled to death back there. The bay brought me right to
the lot, then stopped, of course. Circus horses have a lot of
I heard right away that you were not injured and that you were
bringing the bulls in. Then I was happy. I'm happy now.
We'll have a lesson after the show. You--"

"When do you think I shall be fit to go in the ring?"

"Fit now! You're ahead of a good many who have been working
at it for years, and I mean just what I'm saying. There is
Mr. Sparling. Come on; run along back to the paddock with me.
I haven't finished talking with you yet."

"Perhaps he may want me," hesitated Phil.

"Nothing very particular. He'll want to have it out with
Mr. Kennedy first. Then, if he wants you, he can go back and
hunt you up, or send for you. Mr. Sparling knows how to send for
people when he wants them, doesn't he?" twinkled Dimples.

"I should say he did," grinned Phil. "He's not bashful. Has my
friend Teddy got back yet?"

"Haven't seen him. Why? Worried about him?"

"Not particularly. He has a habit of taking care of himself
under most circumstances."

Dimples laughed heartily.

"It will take more than a stampede to upset him. He'll make a
showman if he ever settles down to the work in earnest."

"He has settled down, Mrs. Robinson," answered Phil with
some dignity.

"My, my! But you needn't growl about it. I was paying him
a compliment."

Thus she chattered on until they reached the paddock. They had
been there but a few moments before the expected summons for Phil
was brought.



Phil responded rather reluctantly. He would have much preferred
to sit out in the paddock talking circus with Little Dimples.

He found Mr. Sparling striding up and down in front of the
elephant enclosure.

"I hope nothing very serious happened, Mr. Sparling," greeted
Phil, approaching him.

"If you mean damages, no. A few people knocked down, mostly due
to their own carelessness. I've got the claim-adjuster at work
settling with all we can get hold of. But we'll get it all back
tonight, my boy. We'll have a turn-away this afternoon, too,
unless I am greatly mistaken. Why, they're lining up outside the
front door now."

"I'm glad for both these things," smiled Phil. "Especially so
because no one was killed."

"No. But one of our bareback riders was put out of business for
a time."

"Is that so? Who?"

"Monsieur Liebman."

"Oh, that's too bad. What happened to him?"

"Someone ran him down. He was thrown and sprained his ankle.
He won't ride for sometime, I reckon. But come over here and
sit down. I want to have a little chat with you."

Mr. Sparling crossed the tent, sitting down on a bale of straw
just back of the monkey cage. The simians were chattering
loudly, as if discussing the exciting incidents of the morning.
But as soon as they saw the showman they flocked to the back of
the cage, hanging by the bars, watching him to find out what he
was going to do.

He made a place for Phil beside him.

"Sit down."

"Thank you."

"I was just running up in my mind, on my way back, that,
in actual figures, you've saved me about ten thousand dollars.
Perhaps it might be double that. But that's near enough for all
practical purposes."

"I saved you--" marveled Phil, flushing.



"Well, you began last year, and you have started off at the same
old pace this season. Today you have gone and done it again.
That was one of the nerviest things I ever saw. I wouldn't
have given a copper cent for your life, and I'll bet you
wouldn't, either."

"N-o-o," reflected Phil slowly, "I thought I was a goner."

"While the rest of our crowd were hiking for cover, like a lot of
'cold feet,' you were diving right into the heart of the trouble,
picking up my principal equestrienne. Then you sent her away and
stopped to face the herd of bulls. Jumping giraffes, but it was
a sight!"

By this time the monkeys had gone back to finish their
animated discussion.

"I do not deserve any credit for that. I was caught and I
thought I might as well face the music."

"Bosh! I heard you calling for Emperor, and I knew right away
that that little head of yours was working like the wheels of
a chariot in a Roman race. I knew what you were trying to do,
but I'd have bet a thousand yards of canvas you never would.
You did, though," and the showman sighed.

Phil was very much embarrassed and sat kicking his heels into
the soft turf, wishing that Mr. Sparling would talk about
something else.

"The whole town is talking about it. I'm going to have the press
agent wire the story on ahead. I told him, just before I came
in, that if he'd follow you he'd get 'copy' enough to last him
all the rest of his natural life. All that crowd out there has
come because there was a young circus boy with the show, who had
a head on his shoulders and the pluck to back his gray matter."

"Have you talked with Mr. Kennedy?" asked Phil, wishing to change
the personal trend of the conversation.

"Yes; why?"

"Did he say what he thought was the matter with Jupiter?"

"He didn't know. He knew only that Jupiter had been 'off' for
nearly two days. Kennedy said something about a bad stomach.
Why do you ask that question?" demanded the showman, with a
shrewd glance at the boy.

"Because I have been wondering about Jupiter quite a little
since morning. I've been thinking, Mr. Sparling."

"Now what are you driving at? You've got something in your head.
Out with it!"

"It may sound foolish, but--"

"But what?"

"While Jupiter was bad, he showed none of the signs that come
from a fit of purely bad temper--that is, before the stampede."

"That's right."

"Then what brought it on?" asked Phil looking Mr. Sparling
squarely in the eyes.

For a few seconds man and boy looked at each other without
a word.

"What's your idea?" asked the showman quietly.

"It's my opinion that somebody doctored him--gave him

The showman uttered a long, low whistle.

"You've hit it! You've hit it!" he exclaimed, bringing a hand
down on the lad's knee with such force that Phil winced.
"It's one of those rascally canvasmen that I discharged. Oh, if
ever I get my hands on him it will be a sorry day for him!
You haven't seen him about, have you?"

"I thought I caught a glimpse of him on the street yesterday
during the parade, but he disappeared so quickly that I could not
be sure."

Mr. Sparling nodded reflectively.

"You probably heard how Emperor ducked him and--"

"Yes; you remember I came up just after the occurrence.
I'll tell you what I want you to do."


"I'll release you from the parade for tomorrow, and perhaps
longer, and I want you to spend your time moving around among
the downtown crowds to see if you can spot him. If you succeed,
well you will know what to do."

"Want me to act as a sort of detective?" grinned Phil.

"Well, you might put it that way, but I don't. You are serving
me if--"

"Yes; I know that. I am glad to serve you in any way I can."

"I don't have to take your word for that," laughed Mr. Sparling.
"I think you have shown me. I have been thinking of
another matter. It has been in my mind for several days."

Phil glanced up inquiringly.

"How would you like to come out front?"

"You mean?"

"To join my staff? I need someone just like you--a young man
with ideas, with the force to put them into execution after he
has developed them. You are the one I want."

"But, Mr. Sparling--"

"Wait till I get through. You can continue with your acts if you
wish, just the same, and give your odd moments to me."

"In what capacity?"

"Well, for the want of a better name we'll call it a sort of
confidential man."

"I appreciate the offer more than I can tell you, Mr. Sparling.

"But what?"

"I want to go through the mill in the ring. I want to learn to
do everything that almost anyone can do there."

The showman laughed.

"Then you would be able to do what few men ever have succeeded
in doing. You would be a wonder. I'm not saying that you are
not that already, in your way. But you would be a wonder
among showmen."

"I can do quite a lot of things now."

"I know you can. And you will. What do you say?"

"It's funny, but since you told me of the accident to your
bareback man, I was going to ask you something."


"Rather, I was going to suggest--"

"Well, out with it!"

"I was going to suggest that you let me fill in his place until
he is able to work again. It would save you the expense of
getting a new performer on, and would hold the job for the
present man."

"You, a bareback rider?"

Phil nodded.

"But you can't ride!"

"But I can," smiled the lad. "I've been at it almost ever since
we started the season. I've been working every day."


"No. Mrs. Robinson has been teaching me. Of course, I am not
much of a rider, but I can manage to stick on somehow."

The manager was regarding him thoughtfully.

"As I have intimated strongly before this, you beat anything I
ever have seen in all my circus experience. You say you can
ride bareback?"


"I should like to see what you can do. Mind you, I'm not saying
I'll let you try it in public. Just curious, you know, to see
what you have been doing."

"Now--will you see me ride now?"

Mr. Sparling nodded.

"Then I'll run back and get ready. I'll be out in a few
laughed the boy, as, with sparkling eyes and flushed face,
he dashed back to the dressing tent to convey the good news
to Little Dimples.

"I knew it," she cried enthusiastically. "I knew you would be a
rival soon. Now I've got to look out or I shall be out of a job
in no time. Hurry up and get your working clothes on. I'll have
the gray out by the time you are ready."

Twenty minutes later Phil Forrest presented himself in the ring,
with Little Dimples following, leading the old gray ring horse.

"Come up to ring No. 2," directed the owner. "They haven't
leveled No. 1 down yet. How's this? Don't you use the back pad
to ride on?" questioned Mr. Sparling in a surprised tone.

"No, sir. I haven't used the pad at all yet."

"Very well; I'm ready to see you fall off."

Phil sprang lightly to the back of the ring horse while Dimples,
who had brought a ringmaster's whip with her, cracked the whip
and called shrilly to her horse. The old gray fell into its
accustomed easy gallop, Phil sitting lightly on the animal's hip,
moving up and down with the easy grace of a finished rider.

After they had swept twice around the ring, the boy sprang to
his feet, facing ahead, and holding his short crop in both hands,
leaning slightly toward the center of the ring, treading on fairy
feet from one end of the broad back to the other.

Next he varied his performance by standing on one foot, holding
the other up by one hand, doing the same graceful step that he
had on both feet a moment before.

Now he tried the same feats riding backwards, a most difficult
performance for any save a rider of long experience.

Mrs. Robinson became so absorbed in his riding that she forgot to
urge the gray along or to crack the whip. The result was that
the old horse stopped suddenly.

Phil went right on. He was in a fair way to break his neck,
as he was plunging toward the turf head first.

"Ball!" she cried, meaning to double oneself up into as near an
approach to a round ball as was possible.

But Phil already had begun to do this very thing. And he did
another remarkable feat at the same time. He turned his body
in the air so that he faced to the front, and the next instant
landed lightly on his feet outside the ring.

Phil blew a kiss to the amazed owner, turning back to the
ring again.

By this time Mrs. Robinson had placed the jumping board in the
ring--a short piece of board, one end of which was built up
about a foot from the ground. Then she started the ring horse
galloping again.

Phil, measuring his distance, took a running start and vaulted,
landing on his feet on the animal's back, then, urging his mount
on to a lively gallop about the sawdust ring, he threw himself
into a whirlwind of graceful contortions and rapid movements,
adding some of his own invention to those usually practiced by
bareback riders.

Phil dropped to the hip of the gray, his face flushed with
triumph, his eyes sparkling.

"How is it, Mr. Sparling?" he called.

The showman was clapping his hands and clambering down the aisle
from his position near the top row of seats.

"You don't mean to tell me you have never tried bareback riding
before this season?" he demanded.

"No, sir; this is my first experience."

"Then all I have to say is that you will make one of the
finest bareback riders in the world if you keep on. It is
marvelous, marvelous!"

"Thank you," glowed the lad. "But if there is any credit
coming to anyone it is due to Mrs. Robinson. She taught me
how to do it," answered Phil gallantly.

Little Dimples shook a small, brown fist at him.

"He knows how to turn a pretty compliment as well as he knows how
to ride, Mr. Sparling," bubbled Dimples. "You should just hear
the nice things he said to me back in the paddock," she teased.

Phil blushed furiously.

"Shall I ride again?" he asked.

"Not necessary," answered the owner. "But, by the way, you might
get up and do a somersault. Do a backward turn with the horse at
a gallop," suggested Mr. Sparling, with a suspicion of a smile at
the corners of his mouth.

"A somersault?" stammered Phil, somewhat taken back. "Why--I--
I--I guess I couldn't do that; I haven't learned to do that yet."

"Not learned to do it? I am surprised."

Phil looked crestfallen.

"I am surprised, indeed, that there is one thing in this show
that you are unable to do." The manager broke out into a roar of
laughter, in which Little Dimples joined merrily.

"May I go on?" asked the lad somewhat apprehensively.

"May you? May you? Why, I--"

At that moment Teddy Tucker came strolling lazily in with a long,
white feather tucked in the corner of his mouth.

The showman's eyes were upon it instantly.

"What have you there?" he demanded.

"Feather," answered Teddy thickly.

"I see it. Where did you get it?"

"Pulled it out of the pelican's tail. Going to make a pen
of it to use when I write to the folks at Edmeston," answered
the boy carelessly.

"You young rascal!" thundered Mr. Sparling. "What do you
mean by destroying my property like that? I'll fine you!
I'll teach you!"

"Oh, it didn't hurt the pelican any. Besides, he's got more tail
than he can use in his business, anyway."

"Get out of here!" thundered the manager in well-feigned anger.
"I'll forget myself and discharge you first thing you know.
What do you want?"

"I was going to ask you something," answered Teddy slowly.

"You needn't. You needn't. It won't do you any good. What is
it you were going to ask me?"

"I was going to ask you if I might go in the leaping act."

"The leaping act?"

"Yes, sir. The one where the fellows jump over the
elephants and--"

"Ho, ho, ho! What do you think of that, Phil? What do you--"

"I can do it. You needn't laugh. I've done it every day for
three weeks. I can jump over four elephants and maybe five, now.
I can--"

"Yes, I have seen him do it, Mr. Sparling," vouched Phil. "He is
going to make a very fine leaper."

The showman removed his broad sombrero, wiped the perspiration
from his brow, glancing from one to the other of the Circus Boys.

"May I?"

"Yes, yes. Go ahead. Do anything you want to. I'm only the
hired man around here anyhow," snapped the showman, jamming his
hat down over his head and striding away, followed by the merry
laughter of Little Dimples.



"Bareback riders out!" shouted the callboy, poking his head
into the dressing tent.

"Get out!" roared a clown, hurling a fellow performer's bath
brush at the boy, which the youngster promptly shied back
at the clown's head, then prudently made his escape to call
Little Dimples in the women's dressing tent.

Phil Forrest, proud and happy, bounded out into the paddock,
resplendent in pink tights, a black girdle about his loins,
sparkling with silver spangles.

Little Dimples ran out at about the same time.

"How do I look?" he questioned, his face wreathed in smiles.

"If you ride half as well as you look today, you will make the
of your life," twinkled Dimples merrily. "There, don't blush.
Run along. The band is playing our entrance tune. Mr. Ducro
will be in a fine temper if we are a second behind time."

For that day, and until Phil could break in on another animal,
Little Dimples had loaned her gray to him, for Phil did not
dare to try the experiment of riding a new horse at his
first appearance. Altogether too much depended upon his first
public exhibition as a bareback rider to permit his taking any
such chances.

Dimples owned two horses, so she rode the second one this day.

As Phil walked lightly the length of the big top, which he
was obliged to do to reach ring No. 1 in which he was to ride,
his figure, graceful as it was, appeared almost fragile.
He attracted attention because of this fact alone, for the people
did not recognize in him the lad who had that morning stayed the
stampede of the herd of huge elephants.

"Now keep cool. Don't get excited," warned Dimples as she left
him to enter the ring where she was to perform. "Forget all
about those people out there, and they will do the rest."

Phil nodded and passed on smiling. Reaching his ring he quickly
kicked off his pumps and leaped lightly to the back of his mount,
where he sat easily while the gray slowly walked about the
sawdust arena.

"Ladies and gentlemen," announced the equestrian director.
"You see before you the hero of the day, the young man who,
unaided, stopped the charge of a herd of great elephants,
saving, perhaps many lives besides doing a great service for
the Sparling Combined Shows."

"What did you do that for?" demanded Phil, squirming uneasily
on the slippery seat where he was perched.

"Unfortunately," continued the Director, "our principal male
bareback rider was slightly injured in that same stampede.
The management would not permit him to appear this evening on
that account, for the Sparling Combined Shows believe in
treating its people right. Our young friend here has consented
to ride in the regular rider's place. It is his first appearance
in any ring as a bareback rider. I might add that he has been
practicing something less than three weeks for this act;
therefore any slips that he may make you will understand.
Ladies and gentlemen, I take pleasure in introducing to you
Master Phillip Forrest, the hero of the day--a young man who is
winning new laurels on the tanbark six days in every week!"

The audience, now worked up to the proper pitch of enthusiasm by
the words of the director, howled its approval, the spectators
drumming on the seats with their feet and shouting lustily.
Phil had not had such an ovation since the day he first rode
Emperor into the ring when he joined the circus in Edmeston.

The lad's face was a few shades deeper pink than his tights,
and nervous excitement seemed to suddenly take possession of him.

"I wish you hadn't done that," he laughed. "I'll bet I fall off
now, for that."

"Tweetle! Tweetle!" sang the whistle.


At a wave of the bandmaster's baton, the band suddenly launched
into a smashing air.

The ringmaster's whip cracked with an explosive sound, at which
the gray mare, unaffected by the noise and the excitement,
started away at a measured gallop, her head rising and falling
like the prow of a ship buffeting a heavy sea.

Phil was plainly nervous. He knew it. He felt that he was going
to make an unpleasant exhibition of himself.

"Get up! Get going! Going to sit there all day?" questioned
the ringmaster.

Phil threw himself to his feet. Somehow he missed his footing in
his nervousness, and the next instant he felt himself falling.

"There, I've done it!" groaned the lad, as he dropped lightly on
all fours well outside the wooden ring curbing, which he took
care to clear in his descent.

"Oh, you Rube! You've gone and done it now," growled
the ringmaster. "It's all up. You've lost them sure."

The audience was laughing and cheering at the same time.

Feeling her rider leave her back the gray dropped her gallop and
fell into a slow trot.

Phil scrambled to his feet very red in the face, while
Mr. Sparling, from the side lines, stood leaning against a
quarter pole with a set grin on his face. His confidence in his
little Circus Boy was not wholly lost yet.

"Keep her up! Keep her up! What ails you?" snapped Phil.

All the grit in the lad's slender body seemed to come to the
front now. His eyes were flashing and he gripped the little
riding whip as if he would vent his anger upon it.

The ringmaster's whip had exploded again and the gray began
to gallop. Phil paused on the ring curbing with head slightly
inclined forward, watching the gray with keen eyes.

Phil had forgotten that sea of human faces out there now. He saw
only that broad gray, rosined back that he must reach and cling
to, but without a slip this time.

All at once he left the curbing, dashing almost savagely at
his mount.

"He'll never make it from the ground," groaned Mr. Sparling,
realizing that Phil had no step to aid him in his effort to reach
the back of the animal.

The lad launched himself into the air as if propelled by
a spring. He landed fairly on the back of the ring horse,
wavered for one breathless second, then fell into the pose
of the accomplished rider.

"Y-i-i-i--p! Y-i-i-i-p!" sang the shrill voice of Little Dimples
far down in ring No. 1.

"Y-i-i-i-p!" answered the Circus Boy, while the spectators broke
into thunders of applause.

Mr. Sparling, hardened showman that he was, brushed a suspicious
hand across his eyes and sat down suddenly.

"Such grit, Such grit!" he muttered.

Phil threw himself wildly into his work, taking every conceivable
position known to the equestrian world, and essaying many daring
feats that he had never tried before. It seemed simply
impossible for the boy to fall, so sure was his footing. Now he
would spring from the broad back of the gray, and run across the
ring, doing a lively handspring, then once more vault into a
standing position on the mare.

Suddenly the band stopped playing, for the rest that is always
given the performers. But Phil did not pause.

"Keep her up!" Forrest shouted, bringing down his whip on the
flanks of his mount and, in a fervor of excitement and stubborn
determination, going at his work like a whirlwind.

Mr. Sparling, catching the spirit of the moment scrambled to his
feet and rushed to the foot of the bandstand, near which he had
been sitting.

"Play, you idiots, play!" shouted the proprietor, waving his
arms excitedly.

Play they did.

Little Dimples, too, had by this time forgotten that she was
resting, and now she began to ride as she never had ridden
before, throwing a series of difficult backward turns, landing
each time with a sureness that she never had before accomplished.

Tweetle! Tweetle!

The act came to a quick ending. The time for the equestrian act
had expired, and it must give way to the others that were
to follow. But Phil, instead of dropping to the ground and
walking to the paddock along the concourse, suddenly brought down
his whip on the gray's flanks, much to that animal's surprise and
apparent disgust.

Starting off at a quicker gallop, the gray swung into the
concourse, heading for the paddock with disapproving ears laid
back on her head, Phil standing as rigid as a statue with folded
arms, far back over the animal's hips.

The people were standing up, waving their arms wildly.
Many hurled their hats at the Circus Boy in their excitement,
while others showered bags of peanuts over him as he raced
by them.

Such a scene of excitement and enthusiasm never had been seen
under that big top before. Phil did not move from his position
until he reached the paddock. Arriving there he sat down, slid
to the ground and collapsed in a heap.

Mr. Sparling came charging in, hat missing and hair
standing straight up where he had run his fingers through
it in his excitement.

He grabbed Phil in his arms and carried him into the
dressing tent.

"You're not hurt, are you, my lad?" he cried.

"No; I'm just a silly little fool," smiled Phil a bit weakly.
"How did I do?"

"It was splendid, splendid."

"Hurrah for Phil Forrest!" shouted the performers. Then boosting
the lad to their shoulders, the painted clowns began marching
about the dressing tent with him singing, "For He's a Jolly
Good Fellow."

"All out for the leaping act," shouted the callboy, poking his
grinning countenance through between the flaps. "Leapers and
clowns all out on the jump!"



Cool, confident a troop of motley fools and clean-limbed
performers filed out from the dressing tent, on past the
bandstand and across the arena to the place where the springboard
had been rigged, with a mat two feet thick a short distance
beyond it.

With them proudly marched Teddy Tucker.

Mr. Sparling, in the meantime, was patting Phil on the back.

"I'm in a quandary, Phil," he said.

"What about?" smiled the lad, tugging away at his tights.

"I want you out front and yet it would be almost a crime to take
a performer like you out of the ring. Tell me honestly, where
would you prefer to be?"

"That's a difficult question to answer. There is a terrible
fascination about the ring, and it's getting a stronger hold of
me every day I am out."

"Yes; I understand that. It's so with all of them. I was that
way myself at first."

"Were you ever in the ring?"

"I clowned it. But I wasn't much of a performer. Just did a few
simple clown stunts and made faces at the audience. Then I got
some money ahead and started out for myself. If I'd had you then
I would have had a railroad show long before this season," smiled
the showman.

"On the other hand," continued Phil, "I am anxious to learn the
front of the house as well as the ring. I think, maybe, that I
could spend part of my time in the office, if that is where you
wish me. If you can spare me from the parade, I might put in
that time to decided advantage doing things on the lot for you,"
mused Phil.

"Spare you from the parade? Well, I should say so. You are
relieved from that already. Of course, any time you wish to go
out, you have the privilege of doing so. Sometimes it is a
change, providing one is not obliged to go," smiled the showman.

"Most of the performers would be glad if they did not
have to, though."

"No doubt of it. But let's see; you have how many acts now?
There's the flying rings, the elephant act and now comes the
bareback act--"

"Yes; three," nodded Phil.

"That's too many. You'll give out under all that, and now we're
talking about doubling you out in front. I guess we will let the
front of the house take care of itself for the present."

Phil looked rather disappointed.

"Of course, any time you wish you may come out, you know."

"Thank you; I shall be glad to do that. I can do a lot of
little things to help you as soon as I learn how you run
the show. I know something about that already," grinned the lad.

"If you wish, I will double somebody up on your flying rings act.
What do you say?"

"It isn't necessary, Mr. Sparling. I can handle all three
without any difficulty, only the bareback act comes pretty
close to the grand entry. It doesn't give me much time to
change my costume."

"That's right. Tell you what we'll do."


"We'll set the bareback act forward one number, substituting
the leaping for it. That will give you plenty of time to make
a change, will it not?"

"Plenty," agreed Phil.

"How about the flying rings. They come sometime later, if I
remember correctly."

"Yes; the third act after the riding, according to the
new arrangement. No trouble about that."

"Very well; then I will notify the director and let him make
the necessary changes. I want to go out now and see your young
friend make an exhibition of himself."


"Yes. He's going on the leaping act for the first time,
you know."

"That's so. I had forgotten all about it. I want to see that,
I'll hurry and dress."

"And, Phil," said the showman in a more kindly voice, even,
than he had used before.

"Yes, sir," answered the lad, glancing up quickly.

"You are going to be a great showman some of these days, both in
the ring and out of it. Remember what I tell you."

"Thank you; I hope so. I am going to try to be at least a
good one."

"You're that already. You've done a lot for the Sparling
Combined as it is and I don't want you to think I do not
appreciate it. Shake hands!"

Man and boy grasped each other's hand in a grip that meant more
than words. Then Mr. Sparling turned abruptly and hurried out
into the big top where the leaping act was in full cry.

Painted clowns were keeping the audience in a roar by their
funny leaps from the springboard to the mat, while the supple
acrobats were doing doubles and singles through the air,
landing gracefully on the mat as a round off.

The showman's first inquiring look was in search of Teddy Tucker.
He soon made the lad out. Teddy was made up as a fat boy with a
low, narrow-brimmed hat perched jauntily on one side of his head.
There was drollery in Teddy's every movement. His natural
clownish movements were sufficient to excite the laughter
of the spectators without any attempt on his part to be funny,
while the lad kept up a constant flow of criticism of his
companions in the act.

But they had grown to know Teddy better, by this time, and none
took his taunts seriously.

"That boy can leap, after all," muttered Mr. Sparling.
"I thought he would tumble around and make some fun for the
audience, but I hadn't the least idea he could do a turn.
Why, he's the funniest one in the bunch."

Teddy was doing funny twists in the air as he threw a somersault
at that moment. In his enthusiasm he overshot the mat, and had
there not been a performer handy to catch him, the lad might have
been seriously hurt.

Mr. Sparling shook his head.

"Lucky if he doesn't break his neck! But that kind seldom do,"
the owner said out loud.

Now the helpers were bringing the elephants up. Two were placed
in front of the springboard and over these a stream of gaudily
attired clowns dived, doing a turn in the air as they passed.
Teddy was among the number.

Three elephants were lined up, then a fourth and a fifth.

"I hope he isn't going to try that," growled Mr. Sparling,
noting that the lad was waiting his turn to get up on
the springboard. "Not many of them can get away with
that number. I suppose I ought to go over and stop the boy.
But I guess he won't try to jump them. He'll probably walk
across their backs, the same as he has seen the other clowns do."

Teddy, however, had a different plan in mind. He had espied
Mr. Sparling looking at him from across the tent, and he proposed
to let the owner see what he really could do.

For a moment the lad poised at the top of the springboard,
critically measuring the distance across the backs of the
assembled elephants.

"Go on, go on!" commanded the director. "Do you think this show
can wait on your motion all day? Jump, or get off the board!"

"Say, who's doing this you or I?" demanded Teddy in well-feigned
indignation, and in a voice that was audible pretty much all over
the tent.

This drew a loud laugh from the spectators, who were now in a
frame of mind to laugh at anything the Fat Boy did.

"It doesn't look as if anyone were doing anything.
Somebody will be in a minute, if I hear any more of your talk,"
snapped the director. "Are you going to jump, or are you going
to get off the board?"

"Well," shouted Teddy, "confidentially now, mind you. Come over
I want to talk to you. Confidentially, you know. I'm going to
if you'll stop asking questions long enough for me to get away."

Amid a roar of laughter from spectators, and broad grins on the
part of the performers, Teddy took a running start and shot up
into the air.

"He's turning too quick," snapped Mr. Sparling.

Teddy, however, evidently knew what he was about. Turning a
beautiful somersault, he launched into a second one with the
confidence of a veteran. All the circus people in the big top
expected to see the lad break his neck. Instead, however, Tucker
landed lightly and easily on his feet while the spectators
shouted their approval. But instead of landing on the mat as he
thought he was doing, Teddy was standing on the back of the last
elephant in the line.

His double somersault had made him dizzy and the boy did not
realize that he had not yet reached the mat on the ground.
Bowing and smiling to the audience, the Fat Boy started to
walk away.

Then Teddy fell off, landing in a heap on the hard ground.
He rose, aching, but the onlookers on the boards took it all
as a funny finish, and gleefully roared their appreciation.



"Catch him! Catch him! Catch that man!"

The parade was just passing when Phil shouted out the words
that attracted all eyes toward him. It was to a policeman that
he appealed.

The lad had discovered a shock of red hair above the heads of the
people, and was gradually working his way toward the owner of it,
when all at once Red Larry discovered him.

Red pushed his way through the crowd and disappeared down an
alleyway, the policeman to whom the boy had appealed making no
effort to catch the man.

"What kind of a policeman are you, anyway?" cried Phil
in disgust. "That fellow is a crook, and we have been on the
lookout for him for the last four weeks."

"What's he done?"

"Done? Tried to poison one of the elephants, and a lot of
other things."

"The kid's crazy or else he belongs to the circus," laughed
a bystander.

Phil Forrest did not hear the speaker, however, for the boy had
dashed through the crowd and bounded into the alley where he had
caught a glimpse of a head of red hair a moment before.

But Larry was nowhere in sight. He had disappeared utterly.

"I was right," decided Phil, after going the length of the alley
and back. "He's been following this show right along, and
before he gets through he'll put us out of business if we don't
look sharp."

Considerable damage already had been done. Horses and other
animals fell ill, in some instances with every evidence of
poisoning; guy ropes were cut, and the cars had been tampered
with in the railroad yards.

All this was beginning to get on the nerves of the owner of
the show, as well as on those of some of his people who knew
about it. Things had come to a point where it was necessary
to place more men on guard about the lot to protect the
show's property.

At each stand of late efforts had been made to get the police to
keep an eye open for one Red Larry, but police officials do not,
as a rule, give very serious heed to the complaints of a circus,
especially unless the entire department has been pretty well
supplied with tickets. Mr. Sparling was a showman who did not
give away many tickets unless there were some very good reason
for so doing.

Phil, in the meantime, had been at work in an effort to
satisfy his own belief that Larry was responsible for their
numerous troubles. Yet up to this moment the lad had not caught
sight of Red; and now he had lost the scoundrel through the
laxity of a policeman.

There was no use "crying over spilled milk," as Phil
told himself.

The lad spent the next hour in tramping over the town where the
circus was to show that day. He sought everywhere for Red,
but not a sign of the fellow was to be found.

As soon as the parade was over Phil hastened back to the lot to
acquaint Mr. Sparling with what he suspected.

"Do you know," said Phil, "I believe that fellow and his
companion are riding on one of our trains every night?"

"What?" exclaimed the showman.

"You'll find I'm right when the truth is known. Then there's
something else. There have been a lot of complaints about
sneak thieves in the towns we have visited since Red left us.
You can't tell. There may be some connection between these
robberies and his following the show. I'm going to get Larry
before I get through with this chase."

"Be careful, Phil. He is a bad man. You know what to expect
from him if he catches you again."

"I am not afraid. I'll take care of myself if I see him coming.
The trouble is that Red doesn't go after a fellow that way."

Phil went on in his three acts as usual that afternoon,
after having spent an hour at the front door taking tickets,
to which task he had assigned himself soon after his talk with
Mr. Sparling.

It was instructive; it gave the boy a chance to see the people
and to get a new view of human nature. If there is one place in
the world where all phases of human nature are to be found,
that place is the front door of a circus.

The Circus Boys, by this time, had both fitted into their new
acts as if they had been doing them for years--Phil doing the
bareback riding and Teddy tumbling in the leaping act, both lads
gaining the confidence and esteem more and more every day of
their fellow performers and the owner of the show.

That night, after the performance was ended, Phil stood around
for a time, watching the men at work pulling down the tent.
He had another motive, too. He had thought that perchance he
might see something of the man he was in search of, for no better
time could be chosen to do damage to circus property than when
the canvas was being struck.

Then everyone was too busy to pay any attention to anyone else.
Teddy had gone on to pay his usual evening visit to the
accommodation car and at the same time make miserable the
existence of the worthy who presided over that particular car.

Phil waited until nearly twelve o'clock; then, deciding that it
would be useless to remain there longer, turned his footsteps
toward the railroad yards, for he was tired and wanted to get to
bed as soon as possible.

He found the way readily, having been over to the car once during
the morning while out looking for Red Larry. The night was very
dark, however, and the yards, at the end from which he approached
them, were enshrouded in deep shadows.

On down the tracks Phil could see the smoking torches where the
men were at work running the heavy cages and canvas wagons up on
the flat cars. Men were shouting and yelling, the usual
accompaniment to this proceeding, while crowds of curious
villagers were massed about the sides of the yard at that point,
watching the operations.

"That's the way I used to sit up and watch the circus get out
of town," mused Phil, grinning broadly, as he began hunting for
the sleeper where his berth was.

All at once the lights seemed to disappear suddenly from before
his eyes. Phil felt himself slowly settling to the ground.
He tried to cry out, but could not utter a sound.

Then the lad understood that he was being grasped in a
vise-like grip. That was the last he knew.

When Phil finally awakened he was still in deep,
impenetrable darkness. The train was moving rapidly,
but there seemed to the boy to be something strange and
unusual in his surroundings. His berth felt hard and unnatural.
For a time he lay still with closed eyes, trying to recall what
had happened. There was a blank somewhere, but he could not
find it.

"Funny! This doesn't seem like No. 11. If it is, we must be
going over a pretty rough stretch of road."

He put out both hands cautiously and groped about him.
Phil uttered an exclamation of surprise.

"Good gracious, I'm on the floor. I must have fallen out of

Then he realized that this could not be the case, because there
was a carpet on the floor of No. 11.

This was a hard, rough floor on which he was lying, and the air
was close, very different from that in the well-kept sleeping car
in which he traveled nightly from stand to stand.

In an effort to get to his feet the lad fell back heavily.
His head was swimming dizzily, and how it did ache!

"I wonder what has happened?" Forrest thought out loud. "Maybe I
was struck by a train. No; that couldn't be the case, or I
should not be here. But where am I? I might be in one of
the show cars, but I don't believe there is an empty car on
the train."

As soon as Phil felt himself able to sit up he searched
through his pockets until he found his box of matches, which he
always carried now, as one could not tell at what minute they
might be needed.

Striking a light, he glanced quickly about him; then the match
went out.

"I'm in a freight car," he gasped. "But where, where?"

There was no answer to this puzzling question. Phil struggled to
his feet, and, groping his way to the door, began tugging at it
to get it open. The door refused to budge.

"Locked! It's locked on the outside! What shall I do?
What shall I do?" he cried.

Phil sat down weak and dizzy. There was nothing, so far as
he could see, that could be done to liberate himself from
his imprisonment. Chancing to put his hand to his head,
he discovered a lump there as large as a goose egg.

"I know--let me think--something--somebody must have hit me an
awful crack. Now I remember--yes, I remember falling down in the
yard there just as if something had struck me. Who could have
done such a cruel thing?"

Phil thought and thought, but the more he thought about it the
more perplexed did he become. All at once he started up,
with a sudden realization that the train was slowing down.
He could hear the air brakes grating and grinding and squealing
against the car wheels below him, until finally the train came to
a dead stop.

"Now is my chance to make somebody hear," Phil cried, springing
up and groping for the door again.

He shouted at the top of his voice, then beat against the heavy
door with fists and feet, but not a sign could he get that anyone
heard him.

As a matter of fact, no one was near him at that moment. The
freight train had stopped at a water tank far out in the country,
and the trainmen were at the extreme ends of the train.

In a few moments the train started with such a jerk that Forrest
was thrown off his feet. He sprang up again, hoping that the
train might be going past a station there, and that someone might
hear him. Then he began rattling at and kicking the door again.

It was all to no purpose.

Finally, in utter exhaustion, the lad sank to the floor, soon
falling into a deep sleep. How long he slept he did not know
when at last he awakened.

"Why, the train has stopped," Forrest exclaimed, suddenly sitting
up and rubbing his eyes. "Now I ought to make somebody hear me
because it's daylight. I can see the light underneath the door.
I'll try it again."

He did try it, hammering at the door and shouting at intervals
during the long hours that followed. Once more he lighted
matches and began examining his surroundings with more care.
Phil discovered a trap door in the roof, but it was closed.

"If only there were a rope hanging down, I'd be up there in no
he mused. I wonder if I couldn't climb up and hang to the
I might reach it in that way. I'm going to try it."

Deciding upon this, the Circus Boy, after no little effort,
succeeded in climbing up to one of the side braces in the car.
>From the plates long, narrow beams extended across the car, thus
supporting the roof. Choosing two that led along near the trap,
Phil, after a few moments' rest, gripped one firmly in each hand
from the underside and began swinging himself along almost as if
he were traveling on a series of traveling rings, but with
infinitely more effort and discomfort.

His hands were aching frightfully, and he knew that he could hold
on but a few seconds longer.

"I've got to make it," he gasped, breathing hard.

At last he had reached the goal. Phil released one hand and
quickly extended it to the trap door frame.

There was not a single projection there to support him,
nor to which he might cling. His hand slipped away, suddenly
throwing his weight upon the hand grasping the roof timber.
The strain was too much. Phil Forrest lost his grip and fell
heavily to the floor.

But this time he did not rise. The lad lay still where he
had fallen.



When next Phil opened his eyes he was lying on the grass
on the shady side of a freight car with someone dashing water
in his face, while two or three others stood around gazing at
him curiously.

"Whe--where am I?" gasped the boy.

"I reckon you're lucky to be alive," laughed the man who had been
soaking him from a pail of water. "Who be ye?"

"My name is Phil Forrest."

"How'd ye git in that car? Stealing a ride, eh? Reckon we'd
better hand ye over to the town constable. It's again the law to
steal rides on freight trains."

"I've not stolen a ride. It's no such thing," protested
Phil indignantly.

"Ho, ho, that's a rich one! Paid yer fare, hey? Riding like a
gentleman in a side-door Pullman. Good, ain't it, fellows?"

"Friends, I assure you I am not a tramp. Someone assaulted me
and locked me in that car last night. I've got money in my
pocket to prove that I am not a tramp."

The lad thrust his hands into his trousers' pockets, then a blank
expression overspread his face. Reaching to his vest to see if
his watch were there, he found that that, too, was missing.

"I've been robbed," he gasped. "That's what it was.
Somebody robbed and threw me into this car last night.
See, I've got a lump on my head as big as a man's fist."

"He sure has," agreed one of the men. "Somebody must a given him
an awful clout with a club."

"What town is this, please?"

"Mexico, Missouri."



"How far is it from St. Joseph?"

"St. Joseph? Why, I reckon St. Joe is nigh onto a hundred and
fifty miles from here."

Phil groaned.

"A hundred and fifty miles and not a cent in my pocket!
What shall I do? Can I send a telegram? Where is the station?"

"Sunday. Station closed."

"Sunday? That's so."

Phil walked up and down between the tracks rather unsteadily,
curiously observed by the villagers. They had heard his groans
in the freight car on the siding as they passed, and had quickly
liberated the lad.

"Do you think I could borrow enough money somewhere here to get
me to St. Joseph? I would send it back by return mail."

The men laughed long and loud.

"What are you in such a hurry to get to St. Joe for?" demanded
the spokesman of the party.

"Because I want to get back to the circus."

"Circus?" they exclaimed in chorus.

"Yes. I belong with the Sparling Combined Shows. I was on my
way to my train, in the railroad yards, when I was knocked out
and thrown into that car."

"You with a circus?" The men regarded him in a new light.

"Yes; why not?"

This caused them to laugh. Plainly they did not believe him.
Nor did Phil care much whether they did or not.

"What time is it?" he asked.

"Church time."

He knew that, for he could hear the bells ringing off in the
village to the east of them.

"I'll tell you what, sirs; I have got to have some breakfast.
If any of you will be good enough to give me a meal I shall be
glad to do whatever you may wish to pay for it. Then, if I
cannot find the telegraph operator, I shall have to stay over
until I do."

"What do you want the telegraph man for?"

"I want to wire the show for some money to get back with.
I've got to be there tomorrow, in time for the show. I must do
it, if I have to run all the way."

The men were impressed by his story in spite of themselves;
yet they were loath to believe that this slender lad, much the
worse for wear, could belong to the organization he had named.

"What do you do in the show?"

"I perform on the flying rings, ride the elephant and ride
bareback in the ring. What about it? Will one of you put
me up?"

The villagers consulted for a moment; then the spokesman turned
to Phil.

"I reckon, if you be a circus feller, you kin show us some
tricks, eh?"

"Perform for you, you mean?"


"Well, I don't usually do anything like that on Sunday," answered
the Circus Boy reflectively.

"Eat on Sunday, don't you?"

"When I get a chance," Phil grinned. "I guess your argument
I've got to eat and I have offered to earn my meal. What do you
want me to do?"

"Kin you do a flip?"

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