Part 1 out of 4
The Circus Boys on the Plains
The Young Advance Agents Ahead of the Show
By EDGAR B. P. DARLINGTON
CHAPTER I--ON THE OWNER'S PRIVATE CAR
The English Fat Girl gets mired on the lot. Teddy Tucker
threatens to thrash the "Strongest Man on Earth." The hazards of
a circus life. Teddy would put the whole show out of business.
Phil and his chum assigned to Advance Car Number Three.
CHAPTER II--OFF FOR NEW FIELDS
"Boss Sparling seems in an awful hurry to get rid of us."
Circus Boys meet a cold reception. Phil is made a
"barn climber." Teddy threatens to wring the car manager's neck.
"Soak him, Phil!" yells the boy on the pile of railroad ties.
CHAPTER III--COMING TO AN UNDERSTANDING
Phil gets into action. "I've had enough!" groans the
car manager. A telegram to the owner complains of the
Circus Boys. "Either you get off this car or I do." The advance
car is a bedlam. More trouble for the Circus Boys is in sight.
CHAPTER IV-INTRODUCED TO THE CREW
Circus Boys meet "Rosie the Pig" and other notables. The porter
tells how Phil worsted Mr. Snowden. What a "contract hotel" is.
Teddy decides to take bean soup. "Why didn't the contracting
agent sign us up with a livery stable?"
CHAPTER V--THE MIDNIGHT ALARM
How an advance car is operated. The "banner man" and his little
magnetic hammer. "You're a bird on the trapeze." The boys
exchange confidences on snoring. Circus Boys go to sleep on
beds of paper. Aroused by a great uproar.
CHAPTER VI--ALMOST A TRAGEDY
"He's fallen into the paste can headfirst!" Teddy Tucker has
a narrow escape from death. The manager gives Phil a ducking.
"Rain-in-the-Face" sees a great light. An irate car manager.
How Teddy took his revenge on Mr. Snowden.
CHAPTER VII--THE FIRST DAY'S EXPERIENCE
"He pulled me out of bed!" Great excitement on Car Three.
Snowden hopes Phil will fall off and break his neck.
Young Forrest pastes a poster on himself. "Young man,
you have a cast-iron nerve!" The Circus Boy "squares"
a hard-shell farmer.
CHAPTER VIII--THE CIRCUS BOY WINS
Phil gets a silo, and a hog pen for good measure.
Farmers witness a circus stunt not down on the bills.
A narrow escape. Taking a desperate chance. Phil "the champeen
of them all." Circus sheets that stood out like a fire on
CHAPTER IX--TEDDY GETS INTO TROUBLE
Blue jeans replace pink tights. When it rained paste. "I didn't
know you had your nose stuck in the paste pot when I turned on
the steam." Teddy sets himself the task of reforming a
"crazy man." The trouble maker is named "Spotted Horse."
CHAPTER X--A SURPRISE, INDEED!
Billy Conley is up to tricks. Mr. Sparling takes a hand.
The car manager gets his deserts. "You will hear great
things of Phil Forrest one of these days." "I'm going to
thrash a man within an inch of his life!" Phil hears an
CHAPTER XI--THREE CHEERS AND A TIGER
Phil Forrest, Car Manager. Dazed by an unexpected promotion.
Teddy graduates from the paste pot. How circus money is spent.
The Circus Boys win new laurels. Teddy becomes a press agent.
Phil makes a speech and is welcomed as "The Boss."
CHAPTER XII--FACING AN EMERGENCY
"Bad habit to go to bed on an empty stomach." Teddy Tucker
discovers a rival on a side track. "Here's trouble right from
the start!" The new car manager gets into rapid-fire action.
"We must beat the 'opposition.' Now, boys, it's up to you!"
The mine is laid.
CHAPTER XIII--A BAFFLED CAR MANAGER
"That fellow is playing a sharp trick." Phil breakfasts with his
rival and extracts information from him. "You ain't half as big
a fool as you look, are you?" Bob Tripp gets a great shock.
Farmers guard Phil Forrest's posters with shot guns.
CHAPTER XIV--TEDDY WRITES A LETTER
Circus Boys steal a second march on the "opposition."
Teddy Tucker whoops for joy. The new press agent begins work.
"Spotted Horse" has too many fingers for typing. A suggestion
for billposters. Circus Boys strike hard blows.
CHAPTER XV--IN AN EXCITING RACE
All surrounded in Kansas. Three "opposition" cars
discovered in the same yard with Phil Forrest. A race for
the country. Paste cans dance a jig. Rivals turned over
into a ditch. A case of give and take.
CHAPTER XVI--A BATTLE OF WITS
When money made a big noise. The canary car manager gets an
awful jolt. "Be on your way, my little man," urges Phil sweetly.
"Turn out every man in town! Run as if the Rhino of the Sparling
Circus were after you!"
CHAPTER XVII--THE CHARGE OF THE PASTE BRIGADE
The battle is on in earnest. Trouble is on the air.
"Paste them, fellows!" howls Teddy. "Look out! The police
are coming!" "I arrest you for disturbing the peace!"
Phil faces the officers of the law boldly and wins for his show.
CHAPTER XVIII--THE MISSING SHOW CARS
Congratulations from the show's owner. Four rival advance cars
go out on one train. Teddy sends the enemy's cars adrift.
Sleeping a sleep of innocence. Phil is puzzled over the mystery
of the missing cars. Teddy's expression arouses the suspicion of
CHAPTER XIX--PHIL'S DARING PLAN
Teddy Tucker admits his guilt. Forrest reads "Spotted Horse"
a severe lecture. "Is the sermon over?" A lesson that bore
fruit for a day or so. Pat "smells a rat." "She's moving!
We're off!" The Circus Boys adrift on a runaway car.
CHAPTER XX--ON A WILDCAT RUN
A dizzy ride through the storm. "Don't bother me, I'm making
the next town!" A thrilling moment. Phil faces death with a
smile on his face. "Hold fast, we're going to sideswipe them!"
The agent at Salina gets a surprise.
CHAPTER XXI--IN A PERILOUS POSITION
Teddy throws out his chest and seeks publicity. "Spotted Horse"
has a daring plan. The Circus Boy a hundred feet in the air.
Teddy takes a desperate chance to earn Phil Forrest's fifty.
Overtaken by disaster as the Sparling banner floats to
CHAPTER XXII--A DASH FOR LIBERTY
"Help! I'm hung up!" Teddy is suspended, head downward, between
earth and sky. Phil hurries to the rescue. "I'm all tied up in
a knot!" wails the unhappy Tucker. Teddy takes a long drop,
landing on Billy's neck, and bowls over a policeman.
CHAPTER XXIII--THE DESERTED VILLAGE
A new trouble-plan in the making. Teddy is so happy that he
can't go to bed. The "opposition" is lost again. Phil makes
his chum tell how he tricked the rival car managers. How Phil
Forrest proved that he was a real manager.
The manager of "The Greatest Show on Earth" wants Phil.
Setting out to "drive the other fellows off the map." "No more
meals at the Sign of the Tin Spoon." Circus Boys have a happy
windup to an exciting show season.
THE CIRCUS BOYS ON THE PLAINS
ON THE OWNER'S PRIVATE CAR
The voice of James Sparling rose above even the roar of
A uniformed attendant stepped into the little office tent
occupied by the owner of the Great Sparling Combined Shows.
Shaking the water from his dripping cap, he brought a hand
to his forehead in precise military salute.
"How's the storm coming, Bates?" demanded the showman, with an
amused twinkle in his eyes as he noted the bedraggled condition
of his messenger.
"She's coming wet, sir," was the comprehensive reply.
And indeed "she" was. The gale was roaring over the circus lot,
momentarily threatening to wrench the billowing circus tents from
their fastenings, lift them high in the air preparatory to
distributing them over the surrounding country. Guy ropes were
straining at their anchorages, center and quarter poles were
beating a nervous tattoo on the sodden turf. The rain was
driving over the circus lot in blinding sheets.
The night was not ideal for a circus performance. However, the
showmen uttered no protest, going about their business as
methodically as if the air were warm and balmy, the moon and
stars shining down over the scene complacently.
Now and again, as the wind shifted for a moment toward the
showman's swaying office tent, the blare of the band off under
the big top told him the show was moving merrily on.
"Bates, you are almost human at times. I had already observed
that the storm was coming wet," replied the showman.
"I have reason to be aware of the fact that 'she is coming wet,'
as you so admirably put it. My feet are at this moment in a
puddle of water that is now three inches above my ankles.
Why shouldn't I know?"
"Yes, sir," agreed the patient attendant.
"What I want to know is how are the tents standing the blow?"
"Very well, sir."
"As long as there is a stitch of canvas over your head you take
it for granted that the tops are all right, eh?"
"The emergency gang is on duty, of course?"
"They're out in the wet, sir."
"Of course; that is where they belong on a night like this.
But what were you doing out there? You have no business that
calls you outside."
"I was helping a lady, sir."
"Helping a lady?"
"The English Fat Girl got mired on the lot, sir, and I was
helping to get her out," answered the attendant solemnly.
"You will please attend to your own business after this. If the
English Fat Girl gets mired again we will have the elephant
trainer bring over one of the bulls and haul her out. She won't
be so anxious to get stalled after that, I'm thinking," snapped
"What act is on now under the big top?"
"The ground tumblers are in the ring, sir."
Mr. Sparling reflected briefly.
"Has Mr. Forrest finished his work for the evening?"
"I think so, sir. He should be off by this time."
"Can you get to the dressing tent without finishing the job of
drowning at which you already have made such a good start?"
demanded the showman quizzically.
"Yes, sir," grinned Bates.
"Then, go there."
The attendant started to leave the tent.
"Come back here!" bellowed the showman.
Bates turned patiently. He was not unused to the strange whims
of his employer.
"What are you going to do when you get to the dressing tent?"
"I don't know, sir."
"I thought not. You are an intelligent animal, Bates.
Mr. Sparling scowled, surveying his messenger with narrowed eyes.
"Tell Mr. Philip Forrest that I wish to see him in my private car
at the 'runs,'"--meaning that part of the railroad yards where
the show had unloaded early that morning.
"Wait! You seem anxious to get wet! Have the men strike my tent
at once. It is likely to strike itself if they do not get busy
pretty quick," added the showman, rising.
The messenger saluted, then hurried out into the driving storm,
while Mr. Sparling methodically gathered up the papers he had
been studying, stuffing them in an inside coat pocket.
"A fine, mellow night," he said to himself, peering out through
the flap as he drew on his oilskins. Pulling the brim of his
sombrero down over his eyes he stalked out into the storm.
A quick glance up into the skies told his experienced eyes that
the worst of the storm had passed, and that there was now little
danger of a blow-down that night. He started off across the
circus lot, splashing through the mud and water, bound for his
comfortable private car that lay on a siding about half a mile
from the circus grounds.
He found a scene of bustle and excitement in the railroad yards,
where a small army of men were rushing the work of loading the
menagerie wagons on the first section, for the train was going
out in three sections that night.
"It is a peculiar fact," muttered the showman, "that the worse
the weather is, the louder the men seem called upon to yell.
However, if yelling makes them feel any the less wet, I don't
know why I should object."
The showman quickly changed his wet clothes and settled himself
at the desk in his cosy office on board the private car. He had
been there something like half an hour when the buzzing of an
electric bell called the porter to the door of the car.
A moment later and Phil Forrest appeared at the door of the car.
"You sent for me, did you not, Mr. Sparling?"
"Why, good evening, Phil," greeted the showman, looking up
quickly with a welcoming smile on his face.
"I call it a very bad evening, sir."
"Very well, we will revise our statement. Bad evening, Phil!"
"Same to you, Mr. Sparling," laughed the lad. "Yes, I think that
fits the case very well indeed."
"And now that we have observed the formalities, come in and
sit down. Are you wet?"
"No; I went to my car and changed before coming in. I thought a
few minutes' delay would make no difference. Had you sent for me
on the lot I would have reported more promptly."
"Quite right, my boy. No, there was nothing urgent. The storm
did not interfere much with the performance, did it?"
"No. The audience was a little nervous at one time, but the
scare quickly passed off."
"Where's your friend?"
"He was having an argument with the Strongest Man on Earth
when I left the dressing tent," laughed Phil. "It was
becoming quite heated."
"Oh, Teddy insisted on sitting on the strong man's trunk while he
took off his tights. There was a mud hole in front of Teddy's
trunk and he did not wish to get his feet wet and muddy."
"So the Strongest Man on Earth had to wait, eh?" questioned the
showman with an amused smile.
"Yes. Teddy was threatening to thrash him if he did not keep off
until he got his shoes on."
Mr. Sparling leaned back, laughing heartily.
"Your friend Teddy is getting to be a very belligerent young man,
"_Getting_ to be?"
"It is my opinion that he always has been. Teddy can stir up
more trouble, and with less provocation, than anyone I ever knew.
But, you had something you wished to say to me, did you not?"
"To be sure I had. Something quite important. Have you had
"No; I came directly to the train from the lot."
"I am glad of that. I thought you would, so I ordered supper
for two spread in the dining compartment. It must be ready
by this time. Come. We will talk and eat at the same time.
We have no need to hurry."
The showman and the Circus Boy made their way to the dining
compartment, where a small table had been spread for them, which,
with its pretty china, cut glass and brightly polished silver,
made a very attractive appearance.
"This looks good to me," smiled Phil appreciatively.
"Especially on a night like this," answered Mr. Sparling.
"Be seated, and we will talk while we are waiting for supper
to be served."
Readers of the preceding volumes of this series will need
no introduction to Phil Forrest and Teddy Tucker. They well
remember how the Circus Boys so unexpectedly made their entry
into the sawdust arena in "THE CIRCUS BOYS ON THE FLYING RINGS"
after Phil by his quick wit had prevented a serious accident
to the lion cage and perhaps the escape of the dangerous
beast itself. Both boys had quickly worked their way into
the arena, and after many thrilling experiences became
full-fledged circus performers.
Again in "THE CIRCUS BOYS ACROSS THE CONTINENT," the lads won new
laurels on the tanbark. It will be recalled, too, how Phil
Forrest at the imminent risk of his own life trailed down and
captured a desperate man, one of the circus employees who, having
been discharged, had followed the Sparling Show, seeking to
revenge himself upon it. It will be remembered that in order to
capture the fellow, the Circus Boy was obliged to leap from a
rapidly moving train and plunge down a high embankment.
But their exciting experiences were by no means at an end.
The life of the showman is full of excitement and it seemed
as if Teddy and Phil Forrest met with more than their share in
"THE CIRCUS BOYS IN DIXIE LAND." Phil Forrest, while performing
a mission for his employer, was caught by a rival circus owner,
held captive for some days, then forced to perform in the rival's
circus ring, leaping through rings of fire in a bareback
riding act. The details of Phil's exciting escape from his
captors are well remembered, as will be his long, weary journey
over the railroad ties in his ring costume. It was in this
story that the battle of the elephants was described, all due
to the shrewd planning of Phil Forrest.
The following season found the Great Sparling Shows following a
new route. In "THE CIRCUS BOYS ON THE MISSISSIPPI," the lads
embarked with the circus, on boats, which carried them from town
to town along the big river. It was on this trip that Phil
Forrest met with the most thrilling experience of his life, and
it was only his own pluck and endurance that saved him from a
watery grave at the bottom of the Mississippi.
And now, for the fifth season, the Circus Boys are found under
canvas again, headed for the far west.
"How are things going with you?" questioned Mr. Sparling
after the two had seated themselves at the table in the
"Rather slowly, Mr. Sparling."
"How is that?"
"I haven't enough to do this season. I am afraid I shall get
lazy, unless you give me something else to do."
"Let me see; how many acts have you this season?"
"I am on the flying trapeze, then I do a single bareback
riding act and a double with Little Dimples, the same as I
did last season."
The showman nodded reflectively.
"Besides which, you attend to numerous business details for me,
manage the side shows, keep an eye on the candy butchers, make
yourself responsible for the menagerie tent and other things too
numerous to mention. Yes; you should have a few more things to
do," grinned the showman. "I could run this show with a dozen
men like you, Phil. In all my circus experience I never saw
Phil flushed. He did not like to be complimented. He did his
work because he loved it, not wholly for the handsome salary that
he was now drawing from the little red ticket wagon every week.
Phil was ambitious; he hoped, as has been said before, to have a
show of his own someday, and he let no day pass that he did not
add to his store of knowledge regarding the circus business.
In this ambition Mr. Sparling encouraged him, in fact did
everything possible to aid the lad in acquiring a far-reaching
knowledge of the vocation he had chosen for his lifework.
"Thank you, Mr. Sparling. Let's talk about something else."
"We will eat first. You probably will enjoy that more than you
do my compliments."
"I am sure of it," answered the lad with a twinkle in his eyes.
"I have been thinking of giving you some additional work."
Phil glanced up at his employer with quickened interest.
"Yes, I am thinking of closing you."
"You mean you are thinking of dropping me from the show?" asked
the lad, gazing at the showman with steady, inquiring eyes.
"Well, I should hardly say that. I am afraid the Sparling Show
could not get along without you. I am thinking very seriously of
"Transferring me?" wondered Phil.
"Yes. By the way, do you know much about the advance work, the
work ahead of the show?"
"Very little. I might say nothing at all, except what I have
picked up by reading the reports of the car managers, together
with the letters you write to these men."
"That is all right, as far as it goes, but there is a deal more
to the advertising department of a show than you will ever learn
from reports and correspondence."
"So I should imagine."
"Yes; the success, the very existence of a circus is dependent
upon the work of the men ahead of it. Let that work be
neglected and you would see how soon business would drop off
and the gate receipts dwindle, until, one day, the show would
find itself stranded."
"Nothing could strand the Sparling Show," interposed Phil.
"You are mistaken. Bad management would put this show out of
business in two months' time. That is a point that I cannot
impress upon you too strongly. Any business will fail if not
properly attended to, but a circus is the most hazardous of
"But the risk is worth taking," remarked Phil.
"It is. For instance, when a show has a business of sixteen or
eighteen thousand dollars a day for several weeks, it rather
repays one for all the trouble and worry he has gone through."
"I should say it does," answered Phil, his eyes lighting
"And now we come to the point I have been getting at."
"Yes; what is it you have in mind for me?"
"I am going to ask you to join the advance for the rest of the
"I, join the advance?" questioned the lad in a surprised tone.
"And leave the show?"
"That will be a necessity, much as I regret to have you do so."
Phil's face took on a solemn expression.
"How would you like that?"
"I do not know, Mr. Sparling. I am afraid I should not know
what to do with myself away from the glitter and the excitement
of the big show."
"Excitement? My dear boy, you will find all the excitement
you want ahead of the show. As for work, the work ahead is
never finished. There is always plenty to do after you
have finished your day's work. Besides, this branch of the
business you must familiarize yourself with, if you are to
go later into the executive branch of the circus business."
"I am ready to go wherever you may wish to send me,
Mr. Sparling," said the young man in a quiet tone.
"I knew you would be," smiled the showman.
"Where will you send me, and what am I to do?" asked Phil,
now growing interested in the prospect of the change.
"I have decided to send you out on Advertising Car Number Three.
That is the busiest car of the three in advance of the show.
You ask what you are to do. I will answer--_everything!_"
"Car Three," mused the Circus Boy.
"Yes; it is in charge of Mr. Snowden," continued the showman with
a twinkle in his eyes, but which Phil in his preoccupation failed
to observe. "I am thinking that Snowden will give you all you
want to do, and perhaps a little more."
"When do you wish me to join?"
"You may start as soon as you are ready."
"I am ready, now," replied the lad promptly.
"I did not mean for you to leave in quite such a hurry as that,"
laughed Mr. Sparling. "Besides, this is rather a bad night to
make a change. Take your time, get your things in shape, and
leave when you get ready."
"Does Mr. Snowden know I am to join him?"
"Yes; I have already written him to that effect--that is, I told
him you probably would join at an early day."
"Where is Car Three now?"
Mr. Sparling consulted his route card.
"It is in Madison, Wisconsin, today. This car keeps about
four weeks ahead of the show, you know. We are in Flint,
Michigan, today. Do you think you can get away tomorrow?"
"Certainly. Where do we show tomorrow?"
"It will be an easy jump from there to Madison."
"Yes; but you will not catch the car at Madison. I think you had
better plan to join them at St. Paul the day after tomorrow.
Will that suit you?"
"Yes. I suppose my dressing-room trunk will be carried right
along with the show?"
"Of course. You will close your season before the show itself
does; then you can return to us, though I shall not expect you
to perform. You no doubt will be a little rusty by that time."
"I should say I would be. But, Mr. Sparling--" added the boy, a
sudden thought coming to him.
"What about Teddy? Does he remain with the show?"
"Teddy? I had forgotten all about that little rascal. Yes, he--
but wait a moment. Upon reflection I think perhaps he had better
go along with you. He wants to own a show one of these days,
"I believe he does," smiled Phil.
"Then this will be a good experience for him. Besides, I should
be afraid to trust him around this outfit if you were not here to
look after him. He would put the whole show out of business
first thing I knew. Yes, he had better go with you. And another
thing--salaries in the advance are not the same, you know."
"I am aware of the fact, sir."
"You will draw the same salaries that other employees of Number
Three do, and in addition to this I shall send you both my
personal checks, so that you will be drawing the same money you
"It is not necessary," protested Phil.
Mr. Sparling waved the objection aside.
"It is my plan. Go to your car and tell your friend to get
ready now, and report to me in the morning at Saginaw for
Phil rose. His face was flushed. He was now full of
anticipation for the new life before him. And it was to be
a new life indeed--a life full of astonishing experiences
Phil bade his employer good night, and hurried away to his own
car to tell the news to Teddy.
OFF FOR NEW FIELDS
"Teddy, Teddy, wake up!" commanded Phil, hauling his companion
from his berth in the sleeping car.
Teddy scrambled out into the aisle of the car and promptly
"Here, what are you doing, waking me up this time of the night?"
"I have great news."
"News?" questioned the boy, showing some slight signs of interest
in the announcement.
"Yes, news, and good news, too."
"All right, I'm easy. What is it?"
"We are to join the advance."
"Advance of what?"
"The advance of the Sparling Shows, of course," glowed Phil.
Teddy grew thoughtful.
"What, and leave the show?"
"Not for mine!"
"Oh, yes, you will! You know, we wish to learn all we can, and
neither of us knows anything about that end of the business.
It is a splendid opportunity, and we should be very grateful to
Mr. Sparling for giving us the chance. Besides, it will be a
very pleasant life. We shall be traveling in a private car,
with no responsibilities beyond our work. Will it not be fine?"
"I--I don't know. I shall have to try it first. I decline to
commit myself in advance. When do we go?"
"Pshaw! Boss Sparling seems to be in an awful hurry to get
rid of us. All right, I'll go. I need a rest, anyway--for
my health. I've been working too hard so far this season."
"Too bad about you," scoffed Phil. "We leave from Saginaw as
early tomorrow as we can get away. We shall have to get a few
things from our dressing-tent trunks, then pack up the things
we do not need, sending them on with the show."
"Do I take my donkey?" questioned Teddy, half humorously.
"Your mule? The idea! Now, what would you do with a donkey
on an advance car, I should like to know?"
"He might make things interesting for the rest of the crowd."
"I should say he would! But, from what little I know of the
advance, you will have plenty to interest you without having an
ill-tempered donkey along. Good night, Teddy. This is our last
night with the show for a long time to come."
Phil made his way to his own berth, where he promptly went to
sleep, putting from his mind until the morrow all thought of what
lay before him.
Early the next morning both lads were awake; by the time their
section pulled in at Saginaw they had nearly completed the
packing of their personal baggage.
The rest was quickly accomplished, after they had eaten their
breakfast under the cook tent. All preparations made, a final
interview with Mr. Sparling had, and good-byes said, the Circus
Boys boarded a train just as the strains of the circus band were
borne to their ears.
"The parade is on," said Phil as their train moved out.
"And we are not there to ride in it. We'll have to get up
some sort of a parade for Car Number Three, I'm thinking,"
Late that afternoon the boys reached St. Paul.
After considerable searching about they finally found Car
Number Three. Mr. Snowden was not on board, so, telling the
porter who they were, the lads made themselves comfortable in
the office of the car, a roomy compartment, nicely furnished,
equipped with two folding berths, a desk, easy chairs and
"This is pretty soft, I'm thinking," decided Teddy.
"It is very nice, if that is what you mean," corrected Phil.
"That's what I mean. Do we live in here?"
"No; I should imagine we are to berth at the other end of
"Let's go look at it."
The other end of the car comprised one long apartment with
folding berths and benches for laying out the lithographs.
At the far end was a steam boiler, used in making paste with
which to post the bills. That compartment had nothing either
of elegance or comfort.
"Do the men sleep on those shelves up there?" questioned Teddy of
"Shelves, sir? Hi calls them berths, sir," answered the porter,
who was an Englishman.
"What do you think of our new home, Teddy?" smiled Phil.
"I've seen better," grumbled the Circus Boy. "I think I prefer
the stateroom. Where's the boss?"
"He's out just now looking over the work."
Teddy, with a scowl on his face, went outside to take a look
at the car from the outside. The car was a bright red, with
the name of the Sparling Shows spread over its sides in
"If the inside were half as good-looking as the outside, it would
be some car," was Teddy's conclusion, after walking all around
the car. "I think I'll go back and join the show."
"Oh, be sensible, Teddy," chided Phil. "We shall be very
comfortable after we once get settled. Here comes Mr. Snowden,
Approaching them, the boys saw a thin, nervous-appearing man of
perhaps forty-five years of age.
"Are you Mr. Snowden?" asked Phil, politely.
"Yes; what do you want?"
"I am Phil Forrest, and this is my friend, Teddy Tucker. We have
come on to join the car."
Mr. Snowden looked the lads over critically.
"Humph!" he said. "Come inside."
Whether or not his survey of them had been satisfactory neither
"Now, what are you going to do on this car?" demanded the car
manager sharply, when they had seated themselves in his office.
"That is for you to say, sir. We are at your disposal,"
"What can you do?"
"We do not know. This is entirely new work for us. We have been
performers back with the show, you know."
"Humph! Nice bunch to ring in on an advertising car!" grunted
the manager. "Either of you know how to put up paper?"
"I think not."
"What do you mean by paper?" interposed Teddy.
The manager groaned.
"You don't know what paper is?"
"Paper is advertising matter, any kind of show bills that are
posted on billboards, barns or any other old place where we get
the chance. Everything is paper on an advertising car.
Forrest, I think I'll send you out on a country route tomorrow.
Know what a country route is?"
"I think so."
"Well, in case you do not, I will tell you. Every day we
send out men to post bills through the country. The routes
are laid out by the contracting agent long before we get to
a town. You go out in a livery rig, and you will have to
drive from thirty to forty miles a day. You are an aerial
performer, are you not?"
"Then you will be able to climb barns all right. We will call
you Car Number Three's barn-climber. We'll see how good a
performer you really are. For the first few days I will send you
out with one of the billposters; after that you will have to go
it alone. If you are no good, back you go. Understand?"
"I think so. I shall do the best I can."
"And what do I do?" demanded Teddy.
The car manager eyed him disapprovingly.
"What do you do?"
"I have a nice gentlemanly job laid out for you. You will
operate the steam boiler and make up the paste for the next day.
You'll wish you had stayed back with the show before I get
through with you."
"And I'll go there, too, if you talk like that to me," retorted
Teddy, flushing angrily.
"What's that? What's that?" snapped the manager. "See here,
young man, I am in charge of this car. You will do as I tell
you, and if you get noisy about it I'll show you how we do things
on an advertising car. Get out of here before I throw you out."
"See here, you, I won't be talked to like that. I'll wring your
neck for you, some fine day, first thing you know!" bellowed
Teddy, now thoroughly aroused.
The manager grabbed the lad by the shoulders and shot him through
the screen doors before Teddy had an opportunity to object.
Teddy, red-faced and boiling with rage, was about to project
himself into the stateroom again when Phil motioned him to
go away. Teddy did so reluctantly.
"Where do we sleep, Mr. Snowden?" inquired Phil, hoping to get
the car manager in a more gentle frame of mind by changing
"Sleep on the roof, sleep in the cellar! I don't care where
you sleep! You get out of here, too, unless you want me to
throw you out!"
"I think you had better not do that, sir." Phil's voice was cool
"What's that! What's that! You dare to talk back to me.
"Wait a moment, Mr. Snowden. We might as well understand each
other at the beginning."
The car manager's words seemed to stick in his throat. He gazed
at the slender young fellow before him in amazement. Mr. Snowden
was unused to having a man in his employ talk back to him, and
for the moment it looked as though trouble were brewing in the
stateroom of Car Number Three.
"Say it!" he exploded.
"I have very little to say, sir. But what I have to say will
be to the point. I am well aware that discipline must be
preserved here as well as back with the show. I shall always
look up to you as my superior, and treat you in a gentlemanly
and respectful manner. I shall hope that you, also, will treat
me in a gentlemanly manner as long as I deserve it, at least."
"You--you threaten me, you young cub--you--"
"No; I do not threaten you. I am simply seeking to come to a
friendly understanding with you."
"And--and if--if I decide to treat you as I do the rest of my
men--what then?" sneered the manager.
"That depends. I can answer that question when I see how you do
treat them. From what I have seen, I should imagine they do not
lead a very happy existence," continued the Circus Boy with a
"If I keep you on this car I'll use you as I please, and the
quicker you understand that the better. Now, what do you propose
"I propose," said Phil, still preserving an even tone, "to do my
duty and at the same time keep my self-respect. I propose, if
you persist in directing insulting language at me, to give you a
thrashing that will last you all the rest of the season."
Teddy, who had sat down on a pile of railroad ties beside
the tracks, could see and hear all that was going on in
"Soak him, Phil!" howled the boy on the tie pile.
Snowden's eyes blazed and his fingers opened and
With an angry growl he hurled himself straight at Phil Forrest.
COMING TO AN UNDERSTANDING
"Be careful, Mr. Snowden!" warned the Circus Boy, stepping out
of harm's way. "I am not looking for trouble, but I shall
"I'll teach you to talk back to me. I'll--"
Just then the car manager stumbled over a chair and went down
with a crash, smashing the chair to splinters.
"Mr. Sparling will not tolerate anything of this sort, I am
sure," added Phil.
By this time, the manager was once more on his feet. His rage
was past all control. With a roar of rage Snowden grabbed up a
rung of the broken chair and charged his slender
A faint flush leaped into the face of Phil Forrest. His eyes
narrowed a little, but in no other way did he show that his
temper was in the least ruffled.
The chair rung was brought down with a vicious sweep, but to
Snowden's surprise the weapon failed to reach the head of the
smiling Circus Boy.
Then Phil got into action.
Like a flash he leaped forward, and the car manager found his
wrists clasped in a vise-like grip.
"Let go of me!" he roared, struggling with all his might to free
himself, failing in which he began to kick.
Phil gave the wrists a skillful twist, which brought another howl
from Snowden, this time a howl of pain.
"I am not looking for trouble, sir. Will you listen to reason?"
urged the lad.
Snowden did not finish what he had started to say. Instead he
moaned with pain, writhing helplessly in the iron grip of
"Do you give up? Have you had enough?"
"_No!_" gritted the car manager.
The Circus Boy tightened his grip ever so little.
"How about it?"
"Give him an extra twist for me," shouted Teddy.
"I give in! Let go quick! You'll break my wrists!"
"You promise to carry this thing no further if I release you?"
"I said I have had enough," cried Snowden angrily.
"That won't do. Will you agree to let me alone, if I release
you now?" persisted Phil.
"Yes, yes! I've had all I want. This joke has gone far enough."
"You have a queer idea of jokes," smiled Phil, releasing his man
and stepping back, but keeping a wary eye on the car manager,
as the latter settled back into a chair, rubbing his wrists.
They still pained him severely.
"I am sorry if I hurt you, Mr. Snowden. But I had to defend
myself in some way. I could have been much more violent, but I
did not wish to be unnecessarily so."
"You were rough enough. I've got no use for a fellow who can't
take a joke without getting all riled up over it. Get out
"What are you doing at this end of the car?" snarled the manager
to Henry, the English porter, who had been peering into the
office, wide-eyed. He had been a witness to the disturbance,
but at the manager's command he hastily withdrew to his own end
of the car.
"Shall we shake hands and be friends now, Mr. Snowden?"
"Yes, of course."
"No. I'll not shake hands with you. I want nothing further to
do with you. Either you get off this car, or I do. We can't
both live on it at the same time."
"So far as I am concerned, we can do so easily," answered the
"I said either you or I would have to get off, and I mean exactly
what I said."
The manager wheeled his chair about, facing his desk, and wrote
the following telegram:
Mr. James Sparling,
I demand that you call back the two boys who joined my car today.
Either they close or I do. They're a couple of young ruffians.
If they remain another day I'll not be responsible for what I do
The car manager handed the message to Phil. "Read it,"
Phil glanced through the message, smiling broadly as he returned
it to the manager.
"That certainly is plain and to the point."
"I'm glad you think so. Take that message to the telegraph
office, and send it at once."
Mr. Snowden had expected a refusal, but Phil rose obediently and
left the car. He took the message to a telegraph office, Teddy
"Why didn't you finish him while you were about it, Phil?"
demanded Teddy. "You had him just to rights."
"I did quite enough as it was, Teddy. I am very sorry for what
I did, but it had to come."
"It did. If you hadn't done it I should have had to," nodded
Teddy rather pompously. "But I shouldn't have let him off as
easily as you did. I certainly would have given him
"It is a bad enough beginning as it is. Now, Teddy, I want you
to behave yourself and not stir up any trouble--"
"Stir up trouble? Well, I like that. Who's been stirring up
trouble around here, I'd like to know. Answer me that!"
"I accept the rebuke," laughed Phil. "I am the guilty one this
time, and I'm heartily ashamed to admit it at that."
"What do you think Mr. Sparling will do?"
"I don't know. I can't help but think he had some purpose in
sending us on to join this car, other than that which he told us.
However, time will tell. We are in for an unpleasant season, but
we must make the best of our opportunity and learn all we can
about this end of the business."
"I've learned enough this afternoon to last me for a whole
season," answered Teddy grimly.
By the time they returned to the car the men had come in from the
country routes, as had the lithographers who had been placing
bills in store windows about the town.
"He's at it again," grinned Teddy, as the voice of the manager
was heard roaring at the men. Snowden was charging up and down
the car venting his wrath on the men, threatening, browbeating,
expressing his opinion of all billposters in language more
picturesque than elegant. Not a man replied to his tirade.
"Evidently they are used to that sort of treatment," nodded Phil.
"Well it doesn't go with me at all. Come on; let's go in and see
what it's all about."
INTRODUCED TO THE CREW
"And the next man who puts up only two hundred sheets in a day
gets off this car!" concluded Snowden with a wave of the hand
that took in every man in the car. "Get in your reports, and get
them in quick, or I'll fire the whole bunch of you now!" he
roared, turning and striding to his office, where he jerked the
sliding door shut with a bang that shook the car.
"Well, the boss has 'em bad tonight, for sure," exclaimed Billy
Conley who bore the title of assistant car manager, but who was
no more manager than was Henry, the English porter.
"Hello, who are you?" demanded one of the men, as Phil and Teddy
stepped in through the rear door of the coach.
"Good evening, boys," greeted Phil easily.
All eyes were turned on the newcomers.
"Howdy, fellows," said Teddy good-naturedly.
"Fine, large evening."
"Are you the boys who joined out today, from back with the show?"
"Yes. Let me introduce myself. I am Phil Forrest and this, my
companion, is Teddy Tucker. We're green as grass, and we shall
have to impose upon your good nature to set us straight."
The Circus Boys had won the good opinion of the men of Car Three
at the outset.
"That's the talk," agreed Billy. "Line up here and I'll
introduce you to the bunch. The skinny fellow over there by
the boiler is Chief Rain-in-the-Face. The one next to him
is Slivers. The freakish looking gentleman standing at my
right is Krao, the Missing Link. On my left is Baby Egawa--"
"Otherwise known as Rosie the Pig," added a voice.
"Everybody on an advance car has a nickname, you know.
You'll forget your real names, if you stay on an advance
car long enough. I couldn't remember mine if I didn't get
a letter occasionally to remind me of it, and sometimes I
almost feel as if I was opening another fellow's letters
when I open my own."
"Glad to know you, boys," smiled Phil. "Do you know where we are
"See that pile of paper up there?"
"Well, it's that or the floor for yours. All the rest of the
berths are occupied, unless the Boss is going to let you sleep
in the office with him."
"I rather think he will not invite us. He seems to be in a huff
about something tonight," answered Phil dryly, at which there was
a loud laugh.
"What's this Johnnie Bull tells me about a roughhouse in the
office this afternoon?" demanded Conley suddenly.
"I would rather not talk about that," replied Phil, coloring.
"Come here, you Englishman, and tell us all about it. Our friend
is too modest."
The porter did not respond quickly enough to suit the men so they
pounced upon him and tossed him to the top of a pile of paper.
"Now, talk up, or its the paste can for yours," they demanded.
Henry rather haltingly described what he had seen in the
stateroom that afternoon, describing in detail how Phil had
worsted the manager of the car.
When the recital had been concluded, all hands turned and
surveyed Phil curiously.
"Well, who would have thought it?" wondered Rosie, in an
Krao, the Missing Link, and Baby Egawa sidled up to Phil and
gingerly felt his arm muscles.
"Woof!" exclaimed the Baby. "Bad medicine! Heap big muscle!"
"That's so. I had forgotten you boys were performers back with
the show," nodded Billy. "What are you up here for--learning
this end of the business?"
"Yes; that is what we are here for," answered Phil.
"Mr. Sparling wished us to do so."
"You have come to a good place to learn it," emphasized Conley.
"But you'll have to fight your way through. You have done a
mighty good job in downing the Boss, but look out for him.
He'll never forget it. If he doesn't get you fired, he will get
even with you in some other way."
"I'll do my duty. But I am not afraid of him. Are all car
managers like Mr. Snowden?"
"Most of them. Some better, some worse. They think they are not
doing their duty, earning their meal-tickets, unless they are
Roaring Jakes. But Snowden is the worst ever. He has the
meanest disposition of any man I ever knew. This is his first
season on Number Three, and I shouldn't be surprised if it were
his last. I hear Boss Sparling doesn't take to him.
Know anything about that?"
Phil shook his head.
"Why do you let him treat you as he does?"
"Let him? Well, I'll tell you confidentially. Most of us have
families to support. Some of us have wives; others mothers and
sisters to look after. It's put up with the roast or get out.
And let me tell you, the Boss isn't slow about closing out a
fellow he doesn't like. He'll fire you at the drop of the hat."
"I'm hungry; where do we eat?" interrupted Teddy.
"Sure! Don't you fellows in advance eat?"
"Well, we go through the motions. That's about all I can say
for it. This living at contract hotels isn't eating; it isn't
even feeding. You folks back with the show don't have to put
up with contract hotels; you eat under the cook tent and you
get real food."
"What's a contract hotel?" asked Teddy.
Phil looked at his companion in disgust.
"Teddy Tucker, haven't you been in the show business long enough
to know what a contract hotel is?"
Teddy shook his head.
"I'll tell you, I'll explain what a contract hotel is,"
said Billy. "The contracting agent goes over the route in
the spring and makes the arrangements for the show. He engages
the livery rigs to take the men out on the country routes, and
when he gets through with the livery stable business he hunts up
all the almost food places in town until he finds one that will
feed the advance car men for five or ten cents a meal. Then he
signs a contract and goes off to a real hotel for his own meal.
Oh, no, Mr. Contracting Agent doesn't get his meals there.
Well, we're booked to eat at one of those almost food places
in every town we make. And some of them are not even 'almost.'
We are going to one of the kind now. Want to come along?"
"Sure," replied Teddy.
"You won't be so anxious after you have had a week or so
All hands started for the hotel.
"What about your reports? I thought Mr. Snowden told you to get
them in at once," asked Phil after they had left the car.
"Let him wait," growled Billy.
"But he will raise a row when you get back, will he not?"
"He'll roar anyway, so what's the odds? We're used to that."
"A queer business, this advance car work," said
Phil thoughtfully. "I never had any idea that it
was like this. If ever I own or run a show it will
be different--I mean the advance cars will be run
on a different principle from this one."
"I hope you do, and that I am working for you," grinned Conley.
"Here we are."
Billy's description of a contract hotel Phil decided had not
been overdrawn. All hands filed into the dining room, and Phil
had lost most of his appetite before reaching his chair.
A waiter who looked as if he might have been a prizefighter at
one time shambled up to them with a soiled napkin thrown over
one arm. As it chanced, he approached Teddy first.
"Bean soup! What'll you have," he demanded with a suddenness
that startled the Circus Boy.
Teddy surveyed the waiter with large eyes, then permitted
his gaze to wander about the table to the faces of the
"Bean soup. What'll I have?" reflected the lad soberly.
"Now isn't it funny that I can't think what kind of soup
I want. Bean soup; what'll I have?"
The waiter shifted his weight to the other foot, flopped the
napkin to the other arm and stuck out his chin belligerently.
"Bean soup! What'll you have?" he demanded, with a rising
inflection in his voice.
"Let me think. Why, I guess I'll take bean soup if it's all the
same to you," decided Tucker, solemn as an owl.
The billposters broke out into a roar of laughter. They fairly
howled with delight at Teddy's droll manner, but the Circus Boy
did not even smile. He looked at them with a hurt expression in
his eyes until the men were on the point of apologizing to him.
They did not know young Tucker.
The rest of the meal passed off without incident.
"Well, what did you think of the contract hotel?" questioned
Conley, as they were strolling back to the car.
"I think I shall starve to death in a week, if I have to eat
in that sort of a place," answered Teddy. "Why didn't the
contracting agent sign us up with a livery stable? I'd a
sight rather feed there than at a contract hotel if they are
all like this."
"Yes, the food is at least clean in a livery stable,"
laughed Phil. "But we shall get along all right. If we get
too hungry we can go out and buy our own meals now and then.
Do you ever do that, Mr. Conley?"
"I should say we do. We have to, or we shouldn't have any
stomachs left. Now, you want to know something about this car
work, don't you?"
"I should like to very much, if you can spare the time to tell me
"Wait till I get my report made out, then we'll have a nice long
talk, and I will tell you all about it."
"There is Mr. Snowden waiting for you."
"Never mind him. His bite isn't half so bad as his bark."
The men piled into the car, whereupon Manager Snowden unloosed
the vials of his wrath because their reports were not in. To his
tirade no one gave the slightest heed. The men went methodically
to work, writing out their reports to which they signed their
names, folded the papers, and tossed them on the manager's desk
without a word of explanation.
For a few moments there was silence in the office while the
manager was going over the reports. All at once there was
"Pig! Come here!"
Rosie got down from the pile of paper on which he had been
sitting, taking his time about doing so, and, wearing a broad
grin, strolled to the office at the other end of the car.
"What's the trouble now?" demanded Rosie.
"Trouble? Trouble? That's the word. It's trouble all the time.
Where are your brains?"
"In my head, I suppose," grinned Rosie.
"No!" thundered the manager. "They're in your feet. All you
know how to do is to kick. You're a woodenhead; you're
Rosie accepted the tirade with a quiet smile.
"If you will tell me what it is all about I may be able
"Look at those billboard tickets!"
"What's the matter with them?"
"Yes, that's what I asked."
"They're torn off crooked."
"Well, what of that?"
"What of that? Why, you woodenhead, when those tickets are
presented at the door when the show comes around, the ticket
takers won't accept them. Then there will be a howl that you can
hear all across the state of Minnesota. How many times have I
told you to be careful?"
"The tickets are all right," growled Rosie, now a little nettled.
"What! What! You dare contradict me? I'll fire you
Saturday night! I'd fire you now only I am short of money.
Get out of here! Come back!"
Rosie turned dutifully, but with a weary expression on his face.
"I fine you eleven dollars and fifty cents. That's about what
the tickets will come to. Now go. Send Rain-in-the-Face here!"
The interview with Rain-in-the-Face sounded not unlike a series
of explosions to those out in the main compartment of the car.
Every face wore a grin, and each man expected it would be his
"Come on, let's go outside and talk," said Conley.
"I should think you _would_ want to get away from it all,"
answered Phil. "I don't know; whether I can stand this
sort of thing or not."
"You'll get used to it after awhile."
"Something's going to happen," croaked the Missing Link,
dismally, as the two left the car by the rear door.
"I guess the freak is right," nodded Billy Conley. "There is
going to be an explosion here that will shake the state."
There was, but not exactly in the way he imagined.
THE MIDNIGHT ALARM
"Now tell me, if you will, what the routine of the work on an
advance car is," said Phil after he and Billy had sat down beside
"It would take all night to do that, but I'll give you a few
pointers and the rest you will have to pick up for yourself.
In the first place an advertising car includes billposters,
lithographers, banner men and at least one programmer."
"Sounds all right, but it doesn't mean much of anything to me,"
"The billposters post the large bills on the billboards, and
anywhere else that they can get a chance, mostly out in the
country and in the country towns. In places where there is a
regular billposter, he does that work for us. Any boards not
owned by a billposter, or a barn or a pigpen or a henhouse on the
road is called a 'daub.' At least two tickets are given for every
place we put a piece of paper on. These tickets are numbered
and signed. Now, if a fellow out in Kankakee, we will say,
should chance to tear down the bill, when he presented his ticket
at the gate on the day of the show, it would be refused.
He'd pay or stay out."
"But how would they know he had taken down the poster,"
"Checkers follow along at intervals and check up every piece of
paper we put up. We send the record of our work to the car back
of us and they in turn send our and their reports to the car
"It is a wonderful system, indeed," marveled Phil.
"Yes. To go back a little I will say that this is a 'scout car'
or what is known among showmen as 'the opposition car.' It goes
only where there is trouble, where there is opposition.
For instance, more than half a dozen shows are coming into
this territory, this season, and it is up to us to cover
every available space with our paper before their cars get
on the ground."
"But will they not paste their bills over yours, over those you
have already put up?"
"They seldom do. It is an unwritten law in the show business
that this is not to be done."
Teddy had come up to them in time to hear the last remark.
"I thought there wasn't any law, written or unwritten, in this
business," he said.
"You will find there is, young man. Then, to come to the
lithographers, as I think I already have told you, these men
place small bills in store and shop windows, giving tickets
for the privilege the same as do the billposters. One man
goes ahead of them and does what we call 'the squaring,'
meaning that he enters the stores and asks the privilege of
putting up the lithographs. In most cases the owners of the
places object, and he has to convince them that it is to
their advantage to have the paper in their windows."
"I didn't think there was so much to it, but I think I should
like that work. I'll be a squarer," decided Teddy.
"The banner men put up what are called 'banners,' cloth signs.
These are tacked up in high places and the banner men have to be
good climbers. They fill their mouths with tacks, points in,
heads out. They use magnetic hammers."
"What's this, a joke?" interrupted Teddy.
"It is not a joke. The head of each hammer so used is a magnet,
and is used to pick the tacks from the mouth of the banner man.
The tack sticks to the head of the hammer and is thus ready to
be driven. An expert banner man will drive tacks almost as
rapidly as you could fire a self-acting revolver."
"That is odd. What does the fellow called the programmer do?"
"He takes the small printed matter around, and drops it on
doorsteps and in stores. When we are making a day run with the
car he drops the printed matter off at stations and crossroads,
or wherever he sees a man. Following us come route-riders."
"What are they?"
"Men who ride over the country routes to see whether the
billposters have put up the paper indicated on their reports, or
thrown the stuff in a ditch somewhere. After them come checkers,
one after the other. This is Car Three, as you know. Car Two
follows about two weeks behind us, and Car One comes along a week
ahead of the show. What are you going to do?"
"Mr. Snowden said I was to go out with one of the men on a
"Then you come along with me, unless he directs you differently.
I can give you pointers that would take you a long time to learn
were you left to pick them up yourself. Don't say anything to
him about it unless he speaks to you, but prepare to go out with
me early in the morning. I have a big drive tomorrow, some fifty
miles, and you will get all you want for one day's work."
"Yes; that will be fine."
"What is your friend here to do?"
"I am the paste-maker," answered Teddy with a sheepish grin.
"I make the stickum stuff for this outfit."
"A nice job," jeered the assistant manager. "You will get all
you want of that work in about thirty minutes. The Boss must
certainly have a grudge against you. You will be hanging around
the car all day, however, and if the Boss is away any you will
have a chance to get forty winks of sleep in the stateroom now
"No; Teddy is not here to sleep. He is here to work."
"Yes; everybody works around here but Father."
"Is the work the same on the advance cars of all shows?"
"All circuses, yes. We do things just the same as the fellows
did them forty years ago. Nobody seems to have head enough to
do things differently, and goodness knows some modern methods
"How long have you been on this car?"
"Four years; this is my fifth season here."
"Why, that is exactly the time we have been with the
"I saw you work last season. You are a bird on the trapeze,
and ride--whew, but you can beat anything I ever saw on bareback!
I knew I had seen you before when you came in this evening, but I
couldn't place you. I remembered after a little. Say, Phil, I'm
glad you handed it out to the Boss this afternoon."
"And I am very sorry. I don't know what Mr. Sparling will think
of it. Still, I had to do something. I saw right away that he
had made up his mind to treat us badly. What time do we pull
"Twelve o'clock, I think. And speaking of that, it is time
to turn in."
The three entered the car. Mr. Snowden already had turned
in, his end of the car being dark and silent. Most of the
billposters also had climbed to their berths near the roof
of the car, and some of them were snoring heavily.
"Do they do this all night long?" questioned Teddy.
"Well, yes," laughed Billy; "they are pretty good snorers,
all of them. Do you snore?"
"I might, on a pinch. I don't know whether I do or not. I am
usually asleep when I snore. How about it, Phil, do I snore?"
"Not when I am within punching distance of you."
The boys undressed, got into their pajamas, and after
considerable effort managed to climb to the top of the pile
of paper, where their blankets had been spread for them by
"Not much of a bed, is it Teddy?" laughed Phil.
"The worst ever!" agreed Teddy. "How I'm going to stick in that
bed when the car gets under motion I don't know. I wish I was
back with the show."
"Never mind, old chap. We have had things pretty easy for the
last four years. A little hardship will not hurt either of us.
And I know we are going to like this life, after we get more used
to it. What time do we get up; do you know?"
"No, I don't know anything about it. I guess in time for late
breakfast," answered Teddy grimly. "Good night."
In a few minutes the Circus Boys were sound asleep. They did not
even awaken when, about midnight, a switch engine hooked to their
car, and after racing them up and down the railroad yards a few
times, coupled them to the rear of the passenger train that was
to pull them to their next stand, some seventy-five miles away.
A few minutes later and they were rolling away. The road was a
crooked one and the car swayed dizzily, but they were too used to
the sensation to be in the least disturbed by it.
An hour or two had passed when, all at once, every man in the car
was suddenly startled by a blood-curdling yell and a wild
commotion somewhere in the darkness of the car.
"What is it?"
"Are we wrecked?"
"What did we hit?"
This and other exclamations were shouted in loud tones, as the
men came tumbling from their berths, some sprawling over the
floor, where a lurch of the car had hurled them.
ALMOST A TRAGEDY
"Strike a light!"
"Are we off the rails?"
"No, you idiot. Don't you feel the car going just the same
as before? And he's wheeling her a mile a minute at that.
Hurry with that light, somebody!" commanded Billy.
At this moment they heard the sliding door of the manager's
stateroom come open with a crash.
"Now, here's trouble for certain!" muttered the Missing Link.
"The Boss is on deck."
"I guess my friend Teddy has got into trouble," said Phil
Forrest, slipping quickly from his bed on top of a pile of gaudy
circus posters. "Ted! Ted, where are you?"
There was no answer.
"What is all this row about?" thundered the manager, stalking
down the car, clad only in his pajamas.
"We do not know, sir. We are trying to find out. I am afraid my
friend has fallen out of bed and hurt himself," answered Phil.
"I hope it killed him!" bellowed Mr. Snowden. "The idea of
waking up the whole car at this time of the night! This nonsense
has got to stop, and right quick at that. Where's that light?"
Phil was groping about the floor, trying hurriedly to
locate Teddy. But no Teddy was to be found.
Finally a match flickered; after lurching about the car the man
with the match finally succeeded in locating the bracket lamp
near the end of the car.
Anxious eyes peered about them in the dim light.
"Look!" howled Rosie the Pig.
A pair of wildly kicking legs were seen protruding from one of
the big paste cans, these cans being made like the big garbage
cans that one sees in backyards in the city.
"It's Teddy! There he is!" cried Phil, springing forward.
"He's gone in the paste can head first!" yelled another of
"Help me get him out; he has stuck fast!" shouted Phil, tugging
desperately at his companion's heels.
The car set up a roar of laughter at the ludicrous sight.
To Phil, however, it was no laughing matter. The paste can
was nearly full of paste and of about the same consistency
as dough in a bread pan. It was thick and wickedly blue,
for it had been mixed with bluestone to preserve it until
required by the billposters.
"Pull him out, you idiots!" bellowed the car manager. "If he
isn't dead now, he can't be killed. Pull him out and throw
Phil flashed an indignant look at Mr. Snowden.
By this time others had come to his assistance. It required
their united efforts to rescue Teddy from his
They hauled him out and laid him on the door.
"Teddy, Teddy!" cried Phil, but Tucker made no reply. In the
first place his mouth was so full of paste that he could not
utter a sound. Again, he was half unconscious, nearly smothered
and still unable to breathe freely.
Phil grabbed off the jacket of his own pajamas and began wiping
the blue paste from the unfortunate lad's mouth, eyes and nose.
A happy thought appeared to strike the car manager. He dashed to
the sink, and, quickly filling a pail of water, ran back to the
spot where Teddy was lying.
Snowden turned the pail bottom side up, apparently intending to
douse the water into Tucker's face.
Instead, the contents of the pail landed on Phil Forrest's head,
spreading itself over his bare back, and trickled down in
rivulets over Teddy's face.
The water was almost ice cold.
"Wow!" howled Phil, springing to his feet. "Who did that?"
"I did, and I'll do it again," jeered the car manager.
"Get me another pail, but I'll do the spilling this time.
Don't you dare duck me again, or I'll settle with you after
I get through with my friend."
One of the crew grabbed up the pail to run for water. This time
the pail was handed to Phil who instantly began mopping the face
of young Tucker.
In a moment or so Teddy began to gasp. His dive had nearly been
the end of him.
"Get a net," he murmured as he slowly came to, whereat everyone
save the car manager laughed loudly. "Wha--what happened?
Did we run off the track?"
"No, you took a high dive into a can of paste," jeered Billy.
"You're the champion high diver of Car Three."
Mr. Snowden, stooping over, grabbed the luckless Teddy by the
collar and jerked him to his feet.
"Get up, you lummox!" he commanded.
Teddy blinked very fast. Mr. Snowden began to shake him.
Phil stepped forward quickly and pushed the car manager away.
"Wha--what!" growled Snowden, an angry light leaping into
"You let the boy alone," commanded Phil. "Because he has had an
accident is no reason why you should punish him!"
Phil paid no heed to him, but led the unsteady Teddy to the far
end of the compartment.
"You get off this car, both of you!" yelled the manager.
"What, with the train running sixty miles an hour?" questioned
Phil, turning slowly.
"Yes; I don't care if it kills you both. Good riddance--good job
if it did."
"I think you have another guess coming, Mr. Car Manager," replied
Snowden glared at the Circus Boy who had thus defied him; then
turning sharply on his bare heel he strode back to his stateroom.
A broad grin appeared on the faces of the car crew.
"I guess that will be about all for this evening,"
"Is there a rope on this car?" asked Phil.
"Yes; what do you want a rope for?" replied Billy.
"He's going to complete the job by hanging the Boss from a brake
beam," spoke up Rosie.
"Not quite as bad as that, I guess," laughed Phil. "I am going
to tie my friend Teddy in his bed. There is no telling what may
happen to him, if I do not. Teddy, had we happened to be sound
sleepers you would in all probability be dead by this time."
"That would please Mr. Snowden too much, you know."
"Then tie me in. I don't want to please him. Did he duck me
while I was asleep?"
"He tried to. As it chanced my bare back got most of the
ducking," answered Phil with a short laugh, for he believed the
car manager had purposely poured the water on him.
"But he shook me," protested Teddy.
"He did that," chorused the crew. "What are you going to do
"Well," reflected Tucker; "I think he and I will fight a duel
tomorrow at sunrise."
Once more all hands turned in, Phil humorously making a pretense
of tying his companion to his "berth." As a matter of fact, Phil
did tie the rope about Teddy's wrist, wrapping the free end about
his own arm, and thus the boys went to sleep once more.
It seemed as if they had been asleep only a few minutes when they
were suddenly startled into wakefulness by a loud noise.
This time, however, it was not a yell, but a roar.
Phil sat up suddenly, rubbing his eyes sleepily.
"Get up, you lazy good-for-nothings!" bellowed the car manager,
dancing up and down the aisle, still in his pajamas, his hair
standing up, his eyes wild and menacing.
"Is that all?" muttered Teddy, sinking back into a sound
Phil sprang from the pile of papers on which he had been
sleeping, landing lightly on the floor in his bare feet.
"Good morning, Mr. Snowden. I hope you had a good night's
sleep," greeted the Circus Boy.
Snowden glared at the lad, as if trying to make up his mind
whether or not Phil was making sport of him. But there was
only pleasantness in the face of Phil Forrest.
"Huh!" grunted the manager. Then he once more began racing up
and down the car, roaring at his men, threatening and expressing
his opinion of them in the way with which Phil already had