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The Circus Boys on the Plains Or The Young Advance Agents Ahead of the Show

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Teddy lay curled up, with one foot protruding from beneath
the covers. Whether or not he had done this purposely, it
was difficult to decide. Be that as it may, Mr. Snowden
caught sight of the pink foot. He rose to the bait like a
bass to a fly.

In another second he had pounced upon the foot. Grabbing it
with both hands he gave it a violent tug. Tucker responded.
He came slipping from the "berth," throwing the quilts before
him as he did so. The quilts landed over the car manager's head.
Then came Teddy Tucker.

Ted landed, full on Mr. Snowden's head, with a wild yell.

Down went the manager and the Circus Boy, with the latter on top,
in a writhing, howling, confused heap.



"Give it to him, Teddy!" howled the crew.

Tucker, as soon as he could right himself, sat down on the
manager's head, at the same time holding Mr. Snowden's hands
pinioned to the floor.

The muffled voice under the quilts waxed louder and more angry as
the seconds passed. Phil, who had gone to the wash room to make
his toilet, hurried back at sound of the row.

"Teddy Tucker, what are you doing?" demanded Phil, for the moment
puzzled at the scene before him.

"I'm sitting on the Boss," answered Teddy triumphantly. "Shall I
give him one for you?"

"Yes--give him two for each of us," shouted the billposters.

Phil strode to his companion, grabbed the lad by the collar
of his pajamas and jerked him from the helpless man under
the quilts.

"Now, you behave yourself, young man, or you will have to reckon
with me," he commanded, pushing Teddy aside.

"You let me alone. This is my inning. I guess I can sit on the
Boss, if I want to, without your interfering with the fun."

Giving no heed to the words, Phil quickly hauled the quilts off
and assisted Mr. Snowden to rise.

"I guess Teddy must have fallen on you, sir," suggested
Phil solemnly.

"He did it on purpose! He did it on purpose!"

"You pulled him out of bed, did you not, sir?"

"Yes; and next time I'll pull him so he'll know it. Get out of
here, every man of you, and get your breakfasts; then get off on
your routes. Things are coming to a fine pass on this car.
Young man, I will talk to you later."

The manager, with red face and angry eye, strode to his
stateroom, while the grinning billposters made haste to get into
their clothes. A few minutes later, and all hands were on their
way to breakfast.

This meal at the new hotel was a slight improvement over the
dinner they had eaten the night before. Besides, all hands were
in good humor, for they had had more real excitement on Car
Three, since the advent of the Circus Boys, than at any time
during the season.

By the time they reached the car again six livery teams were in
waiting for the men who were to go out on the country routes.

All was instantly bustle and excitement. Paste cans were loaded
into the wagons, brushes and pails, together with the paper that
had been carefully laid out and counted, the night before, for
each billposter. A record of this was kept on the car.

Phil lent a hand at loading the stuff, and they found that
the slim lad was stronger than any of them. It was an easy
matter for him to lift one of the big cans of paste to a
wagon without assistance. Teddy, however, stood by with
hands thrust in pockets, an amused grin on his face.
The baleful eye of the car manager was upon him.

"Have you heard from Mr. Sparling this morning?" asked Phil.

"Yes," answered Mr. Snowden shortly.

"What did he say?"

"That is none of your business, young man."

"You are right. I accept the rebuke. While I am interested, it
really is none of my business," answered the lad with a smile.

"Where are you going?"

"You told me to go out on one of the country routes."

"Oh! What route are you going on, if I may ask?"

"I had thought of going with Mr. Conley."

"You will do nothing of the sort. You will go where I tell
you to. I--"

"I suggested that he go with me, Mr. Snowden," interposed Billy.
"I have a hard route to work today and I shall need some help if
I get over it before dark."

"Very well; go on. I hope he falls off a barn or something.
If he does, leave him."

"For your sake, I shall try to take care of myself," answered
Phil with an encouraging smile.


"Yes, sir."

"Start a fire under that boiler. Henry, you show him how to
manage the boiler and mix the paste. I don't imagine he even
knows dough when he sees it."

"I know a dough-head when I see one," spoke up Teddy promptly,
after delivering himself of which sentiment he strolled away with
hands in his pockets, whistling merrily.

The drive to the country in the fresh morning air was a most
delightful one to Phil.

After leaving the town they soon came in sight of a
deserted house. It evidently had been abandoned, for
it was in a bad state of dilapidation.

"There's a dandy daub!" exclaimed Billy. "We'll plaster it with
paper until the neighbors won't know it. When we get there, hop
off and bring some pails of water, will you?"

"Sure," answered Phil. While he was doing this, the billposter
was spreading his paper out on the ground, deciding on the layout
that he would post.

A few minutes later and the gaudy bills were going up like magic
on the road side of the house and the two ends, so that the
pictures might be seen from every point of view from the highway.
The house had been transformed into a blaze of color.

"All right," sang out Billy. "Good job, too."

Phil had learned something. He had noted every movement of
the billposter.

"How long does it take to learn to post, Billy?" he asked.

"Some fellows never learn. Others get fairly expert after a few
weeks puttering around."

"May I try one today?"

"Sure thing. If the next one is easy I will give you a chance
at it."

The next daub proved to be a small hay barn a little way back in
a field.

"There's your chance, my boy," he said.

Phil jumped out before the wagon had come to a stop and, with
paper and brush under his arms, ran across the field. With more
skill than might have been expected with his limited experience
he smeared the paper with paste, then sought to raise it up to
the side of the building as he had seen Billy Conley do.

This was where Phil came to grief. A gust of wind doubled the
paper up, the pasted side smearing the bright colors of the face
of the picture, until the colors were one hopeless daub. To cap
the climax the whole thing came down over Phil's head, wrapping
him in its slimy folds.

"Hey, help!" he shouted. "I'm posting myself instead of
the barn."

Billy sat down on the ground, laughing until the tears ran down
his cheeks.

"If it hadn't been for that unexpected gust of wind I should have
made it nicely," explained Phil with a sickly grin. "Oh, pshaw,
I'm not as much of a billposters as I thought I was. I guess
there is more to this game than I had any idea of."

"You will learn. You took a pretty big contract when you tried
to put up that eight-sheet."

"We will let you try a one-sheet on the farther end of the barn.
A one-sheet is a small, twenty-eight inch piece of paper,
you know."

Phil nodded.

"I'll try it," he said. "I guess a one-sheet is about as big a
piece of paper as I am fit to handle just yet."

He managed the one-sheet without the least trouble, and did a
very good job, so much so that Billy complimented him highly.

"You will make a billposter yet. One good thing about you is
that you are willing to learn, and you are quick to admit that
you do not know it all. Most fellows, when they start, have
ideas of their own--at least they think they have."

After that Phil did the small work, thinned the paste and made
himself generally useful.

"Oh, look at that!" he cried, pointing off ahead of them.

"What is it, Phil?"

"See that building standing up on that high piece of ground.
Wouldn't that be a dandy place on which to post some paper?"

The building he had indicated was a tall circular structure,
painted a dark red, with a small cupola effect crowning its top.

"That is a silo. You wouldn't be able to get permission to post
a bill on there, even if you could get up there to do it,"
said Conley.

"Why not?"

"Why not? Why that farmer, I'll wager, sets as much store by
that building as he does his newly-painted house."

"I'll go ask him. You don't mind if I 'square' him, do you?"
questioned the lad with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Ask him, for sure. But we couldn't post up there. We have
no ladders that would reach; in fact we have no ladders
at all. I mean the farmer has no ladders long enough."

"Never mind; I'll figure out a way," replied the Circus Boy,
whose active mind already had decided upon a method by which
he thought he might accomplish the feat, providing the farmer
was willing.

Reaching the farm, Phil jumped out and ran up to the house.

"Do you own this place, sir?" he asked of the farmer who answered
his ring at the bell.

"I do."

"It's a beautiful place. I am representing the Sparling Circus,
and we thought we would like to make a display on your silo."

The farmer gazed at him in amazement.

"Young man, you have a cast-iron nerve even to ask such a thing."

"I know the mere matter of tickets to the show will be no
inducement to a man of your position. But I am going to make you
a present of a box for six people at the circus. You will take
your whole family and be my guest. I will not only give you an
order for it, but will write a personal letter to the owner, who
is my very good friend. He will show you all there is to be
seen, and I will see to it that you take dinner with him in the
circus tent. No; there is no obligation. All the farmers--all
your neighbors will be envious. I want you to come. We won't
speak of the silo. I don't expect you to let me post that; but,
if you will permit me to put a three-sheet on your hog pen back
there, I shall be greatly obliged."

Despite the farmer's protestations, Phil wrote out the order for
the box, then scribbled a few lines to Mr. Sparling, which he
enclosed in an envelope borrowed from the farmer.

"Thank you so much," beamed the Circus Boy, handing over the
letter to the farmer, accompanied by the pass and order for
the arena box at the circus. "It is a pleasure to meet a man
like you. I come from a country town myself, and have worked
some on my uncle's farm."

"You with the circus, eh?"

"Yes, sir."

"Looks to me like you was a pretty young fellow to be a
circus man."

"Oh no, not very. I belong back with the show. I am a
performer, you know. I am out with the advertising car to learn
the business."

"A performer?" wondered the farmer, looking over the trim figure
and bright boyish face. "What do you perform?"

"I perform on the flying trapeze and do a bareback riding act."

"Is that so?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do you know, young fellow, I never got such a close squint at a
circus fellow before in my life. But, come to size you up, I
reckon you can do all them things you've been telling me about.
Yes, sir, I'll go to the circus. Will you be there to cut up in
the ring?"

"I cannot say. It is doubtful, as I probably shall be ahead of
the show for the rest of the season. Well, thank you very much.
We will decorate the hog pen," added the lad, touching his cap
and turning away.

An arena box, value twelve dollars, was a pretty high price to
pay for a three-sheet on a hog pen, but Phil Forrest knew what he
was doing. At least he thought he did, and he did not walk very
fast on his way to the road.

"Hey, come back here," called the farmer.

"Yes, sir," answered Phil turning inquiringly.

"Come here."

He walked back to where the farmer was standing fingering the
pass and the letter.

"I--I reckon you needn't stick them bills on the hog pen."

The Circus Boy's heart took a sudden drop.

"Very well, sir; just as you say. I do not wish to do anything
to displease you."

"But I reckon you can plaster that silo full of them circus
pictures from top to bottom, if you want to," was the
unexpected announcement.

Phil Forrest's heart bounded back into position again.



"Oh, thank you, thank you ever so much!" answered the lad, his
eyes glowing.

"You're a square kid and I like you."

"I appreciate your kindness, I assure you, and I will write a
letter to the owner of the show about you this evening when I get
back to the car. Have you any ladders that we can borrow, and a
long rope?"

"I reckon you'll find all them things in the hay barn.
Help yourself. I've got to run up to the back farm, but
maybe I'll be back before you get through your job.
So long."

Phil hurried back to the road, where Billy and the wagon
were waiting. The lad's feet felt lighter than usual.

"Well, what luck?" demanded Billy.

"I may be a poor apology as a billposter, but as a diplomat I'm a
winner, Billy."

"You--you don't mean you got the silo?" gasped Conley.

"I got the silo, and I can have the hog pen too, if I want it,
and perhaps the farmer's house thrown in for good measure,"
answered Phil, his face flushed from his first triumph as a
publicity showman.

"Well, of all the nerve!"

"That's what the farmer said," laughed Phil. "But he changed
his mind."

"What do you think of that?" demanded Billy, turning to
the driver.

"The kid is all right."

"You're right; he is. The next question, now that you have got
the silo, is what are you going to do with it?"

"Post it," answered Phil promptly.

"You can never do it."

"I'll show you what a circus man can do."

"Come along and unload your truck. Help me get some ladders out
of the barn."

Wonderingly, Billy did as he was bid, and the driver, now grown
interested, hitched his horses to the fence and followed them.

The silo was empty. Phil measured the distance to the top with
his eyes.

"About forty feet I should say," he decided. "We shall have to
do some climbing."

The ladders were far too short, but by splicing two of them
together, they reached up to an opening in the silo some ten feet
from the top.

Phil hunted about until he found a long plank; then setting the
spliced ladders up inside the silo he mounted to the opening,
carrying one end of a coil of rope with him. Upon reaching the
opening he directed Billy to tie the other end of the rope to
the plank. This being done, Phil hauled the board up to where
he was sitting perched on the frame of the opening.

"I'd like to know what you're going to do?"

"If you will come up here I will show you."

"Not on your life," replied Billy promptly. "I know when I'm
well off, and if you don't look out, Boss Snowden will get
his wish."

"What wish was that?"

"That you might fall off a barn and break your neck."

The Circus Boy's merry laugh floated down to them as he worked in
an effort to get the plank into position. By tying the rope to
one end of the plank to support it he gradually worked the plank
out through the opening, after a time managing to shove the end
nearest to him under a beam.

"There, I'd like to see you turn a trick like that, Billy
Conley," he shouted.

"_I_ wouldn't," retorted Billy. "What's the next move?"

"In a minute. Watch me!"

The lad made a large loop in the rope in the shape of a
slip knot. All preparations being made he boldly walked out
on the plank which, secured at one end like a springboard,
bent and trembled beneath his weight.

The men down below gasped.

The farmer, having changed his mind, had come out to watch the
operation rather than visit the back farm. Two neighbors had by
this time joined him.

"Who's the fellow up there?" asked one.

"He is a performer in a circus."

"A performer? Shucks! He's no more performer than I am."

"Watch him and perhaps you may change your mind," answered Billy,
who had overheard the remark. "That boy is one of the finest
circus performers in this country. Do you think he could stand
out on that plank, more than thirty feet above the ground, if he
were not a performer? Why, I wouldn't be up there for a million
dollars, and you wouldn't, either."

"That's right," answered the farmer himself. "That beats all the
circus performances I ever saw. What is the kid going to do?"

"I don't know," confessed Billy. "He knows and that's enough."

Phil, having tested the plank to his satisfaction and studied
his balance, now cast his eyes up to the little cupola on top
of the silo. Then he began slowly swinging the loop of the
rope over his head, after the fashion of a cowboy about to make
a cast.

They were at a loss to understand what he was trying to do, but
every man there was sure in his own mind what Phil Forrest would
do--fall off.

Suddenly he let go of the loop. It soared upward. Then they
began to understand. He was trying to rope the cupola.

The rope fell short by about three feet, as nearly as he was able
to judge.

"Oh, pshaw!" muttered Phil. "That was a clumsy throw. I would
make just about as good a cowboy as I am a billposters.
Well, here goes for another try."

He put all his strength into the throw this time.

The rope sped true, dropping as neatly over the peak of the
cupola as if the thrower had been standing directly over
the projection.

A cheer rose from the men below.

It died on their lips.

"He's falling!" they cried with one voice.

The farmers stood gaping. But Billy, with the quick instincts of
a showman, darted beneath the plank hoping to catch and break the
lad's fall.

Phil had leaned too far backward in making his cast. He had lost
his balance and toppled over. Here his training in aerial work
served him in good stead. As he felt himself going he turned
quickly facing toward the outer end of the plank.

Like a flash both hands shot out. They closed about the end of
the plank by a desperately narrow margin.

The plank bent until it seemed as if it must snap under
his weight. Then it shot upward, carrying the boy with
it, he kicking his feet together as he was lifted and
laughing out of pure bravado.

Phil knew he was safe now. The drop had tested the plank, so
that there was now slight danger of its breaking.

On the second rebound he swung himself to the upper side of it
and stood up.

"Hurrah!" he shouted.

Billy was pale and trembling.

"If you do that again I'll have an attack of heart disease,
Phil!" he called. "Now, what are you going to do? The rope is
hanging seven or eight feet away from you."

"Hello, that's so. I hadn't observed that before. I should
not have let go of it. Never mind, I'll get it unless
something breaks. See here, Billy, you get from under there."

"Is the plank likely to fall?" asked Billy innocently.

"The plank? No. I am likely to take a tumble," answered
Phil, with a short laugh. All at once he grew serious
and still. "I think I can make it," he decided.

His resolution formed, the lad crouched low, so as not to throw
so great a leverage on the plank that it would slip from under
him when he leaped. He prepared for the spring.

"Don't do it!" howled Billy, now thoroughly frightened.
"Don't you see what he's up to? He's going to jump off
the plank and try to catch hold of the rope hanging from
the cupola. He'll never make it. He'll miss it sure as
he's a foot high. This is awful!"

"Don't bother me, Billy. Mr. Farmer, is that cupola strong
enough to bear my weight on a sudden jolt?"

"It ought to hold a ton, dead weight."

"Then I guess it will hold me. Don't talk to me down there.
Here goes!"

It seemed a foolhardy thing to do. To the average person it
would have meant almost sure death. It must be remembered,
however, that Phil Forrest was a circus performer, that he felt
as thoroughly at home far above the ground as he did when
standing directly on it.

He leaped out into the air, cleared the intervening space between
the plank and the rope, his fingers closing over the latter with
a sureness born of long experience.

His body swung far over toward the other side of the silo,
settling down with a sickening jolt, as the loop over the cupola
slipped down tight.

"Hooray!" cried Phil, twisting the rope about one leg and waving
a hand to those below him.

They drew a long, relieved sigh. The farmers, one after the
other, took off their hats and mopped their foreheads.

"Warm, isn't it?" grinned the owner of the silo.

"Now, pass up your brush and paste on this rope." Phil had
brought a small rope with him for this very purpose.

Billy got busy at once and in a few minutes Phil had the brush
and paste in his hands, with which he proceeded to smear as much
of the side of the silo as was within reach. It will be
remembered that he was hanging on the rope by one leg, around
which the rope was twisted as only showmen know how to do.

"Now, the paper," called Phil.

This was passed up to him in the same way. In a few moments he
had pasted on a great sheet, having first pulled himself up to
the eaves to secure the top of the sheet just under them.

"Now that you have one sheet on, how are you going to get around
to the other side to put others on?" demanded Conley.

"Oh, I'll show you. Be patient down there. I have got to change
a leg; this one is getting numb."

"I should think it would," muttered Billy.

Phil changed legs, as he termed it; then, grasping the eaves with
both hands, he pulled himself along, the slip-noose over the
cupola turning about on its pivot without a hitch.

This done Phil called for more paper, which was put up in
short order. Thus he continued with his work until he had put
a plaster, as Bill Conley characterized it, all the way around
the farmer's silo. It might have been seen nearly ten miles
away in all directions. No such billing had ever before been
done in that part of the country, nor perhaps anywhere else.

"There! I'd like to see the Ringlings, or Hagenbecks or
Barnum and Bailey or any of the other big ones, beat that.
They're welcome to cover this paper if they can, eh, Billy?"
laughed Phil, pushing himself away from the side of the silo
and leaning far back to get a better view of it. "I call
that pretty fine. How about it?"

"The greatest ever," agreed Billy. His vocabulary was too
limited to express his thoughts fully, but he did fairly well
with what he had.

Having satisfied himself that his work was well done, Phil let
himself down slowly, not using his hands at all, in doing so,
but taking a spiral course downward.

"H-u-m-m, I'm a little stiff," he said when his feet touched
the ground. "Am I a billposter or am I not a billposter, Billy?"

"You are the champeen of 'em all! I take off my hat to you."
Which Conley did, then and there.

"I am afraid I shall not be able to get that rope down, sir,"
said Phil politely to the farmer. "I am sorry. I had not
figured on that before. If you will be good enough to tell me
how much the rope is worth I shall be glad to pay you for it.
I can cut it off up near the little door there, so it will not
look quite so bad. Shall I do it?"

"No. You needn't bother. As for paying for the rope I won't
take a cent. I've had more fun than the price of a dozen
ropes could buy. Why, young man, do you know I never seen
anything in a circus that could touch the outside edge of the
performance you've been giving us this afternoon? You boys
had your dinners?"

"No," confessed the Circus Boy. "I guess we had forgotten
all about eating."

"Then come right in the house. My wife will get you
something, and I want to introduce her to a real live
circus man--that's you."

"Thank you."

Phil's eyes were bright. He was happy in the accomplishment of a
piece of work that was not done every day. In fact, this one was
destined to go down in show history as a remarkable achievement.

They sat down to a fine dinner, and Phil entertained the family
for an hour relating his experiences in the show world.

When the hour came for leaving, the farmer urged them to remain,
but the men had work to do and a long drive ahead of them.

They drove away, Phil waving his hat and the farmer and his wife
waving hat and apron respectively.

As the rig reached a hill, some three miles away, Phil and Billy
turned to survey their work.

"Looks like a fire, doesn't it, Billy?"

"It sure does. It would call out the fire department if there
was one here."

"And the best of it is, that posting will be up there when the
show comes this way next season. It is a standing advertisement
for the Great Sparling Shows. But I suppose Mr. Snowden would
say it wasn't much of a job."



"Get those paste cans outside! Step lively there!"

"Say, you talk to me as if I were one of the hired help,"
objected Teddy, his face flushing.

"Well, that is exactly what you are. You'll soon learn that you
are hired help if you remain on this car. I'll take all the
freshness out of you. The flour is in the cellar."

"In the cellar?"

"That's what I said. Go down and get it out. You will require
about a sack and a half for each can. That will be about right
for a can of paste. Henry will show you how much bluestone to
put in. But be careful of that boiler. I don't want the car
blown up."

The manager strode away to his office, while Teddy, red and
perspiring, went about his work. He was much more meek than
usual, and this very fact, had the manager known him better,
would have impressed Mr. Snowden as a suspicious circumstance.

Instead of the usual pink tights with spangled trunks, Teddy
Tucker was now clad in a pair of blue jeans, held up by pieces of
string reaching up over his shoulders. His was now a far
different figure from that presented by him in the ring of the
Sparling Shows.

After dumping the flour into the cans, in doing which Teddy took
his time, he attached a hose pipe to the boiler, under the
direction of Henry. Next he filled the cans with water and was
then ready to turn on the steam to boil the paste.

Teddy was about to do this when Mr. Snowden appeared on
the scene. He looked over the cans critically, but observing
nothing that he could find fault with, he got a stick and
began poking in the bottom of one of the cans, thinking he had
discovered that more flour had been used than was necessary.

All at once Teddy, who was now inside the car, turned a full head
of steam through the hose pipe. There being one hundred and
forty pounds of steam on the boiler something happened.

The full force of the steam shot into the bottom of the can over
which Mr. Snowden was bending. The contents of that can leaped
up into the air, water, flour, bluestone and all, and for the
next few seconds Manager Snowden was the central figure in the
little drama. It rained uncooked paste for nearly half a minute.
Such of it as had not smitten him squarely in the face went up in
the air and then came down, showering on his head.

The force of the miniature explosion had bowled the manager over.
Choking, sputtering, blinded for the moment by the stuff that had
got into his eyes, he wallowed in the dust by the side of
the car.

Teddy shut off the steam, went out on the platform and sat down.

"What happened?" he demanded innocently. Perhaps he did not know
and perhaps he did.

Mr. Snowden did not answer, for the very good reason that he
could not. His clothes were ruined.

"It looks like a storm," muttered the lad. In this he was
not mistaken.

A happy thought came to him. Springing up he hurried into the
car, and, drawing a pail of water from the tap, ran out with it.
Mr. Snowden had just scrambled to his feet.

"This will do you good," said Teddy, dashing the pail of water
over the manager's head. "That's the way you brought me back
when I got pasted up last night."

The Circus Boy ducked back to the platform and sat down to
await developments. They were not long in arriving. The instant
Snowden got the flour out of his eyes sufficiently to enable him
to see he began blinking in all directions.

Finally his eyes rested on Teddy Tucker, who was perched on a
brake wheel observing the manager's discomfiture.

"You!" exploded the manager. Grabbing up the paddle used for the
purpose of stirring paste he started for the Circus Boy.

Teddy promptly slid from the brake wheel and quickly got to the
other side of the car. Snowden was after him with an angry roar,
brandishing the paddle above his head.

"I knew it would blow up a storm pretty soon," muttered the lad,
making a lively sprint as the manager came rushing around the end
of the car. The chase was on, but Teddy Tucker was much more
fleet of foot than was his pursuer, besides which his years of
training in the circus ring had put him in condition for a
long race.

Around and around the car they ran, the porter watching them,
big-eyed and apprehensive, but Teddy kept his pursuer at a
distance without great effort.

After a short time the lad varied his tactics. Increasing his
speed, he leaped to the rear platform of the car, and sprang up
on the platform railing. Here, grasping the edge, he pulled
himself to the roof, where he sat down with his feet dangling
over, grinning defiantly.

"Come down from there!" roared the manager. "I'll teach you
to play your miserable pranks on me!" The roof of the car was
beyond the ability of Mr. Snowden to reach.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know you had your nose stuck in the paste
pot when I turned on the steam," murmured Teddy.

This served only to increase the anger of the man on the ground.

"You did it on purpose; you know you did!" roared Mr. Snowden.
"Come down, I tell you."

"You come up. It's fine up here!"

The manager, now angered past all control, uttered a growl.
Hastily gathering up a handful of coal he began heaving the
pieces at Teddy. But Tucker was prepared for just such
an emergency.

>From his pockets he drew several chunks of coal, that he had
picked up during his sprinting match around the car. He let
these drive at Mr. Snowden, one after the other, not, however,
throwing with sufficient force to do much damage. He did not
wish to harm his superior, but he did want to drive him off.

Mr. Snowden soon got enough of the bombardment, for he was
getting the worst of it all the time.

"I'll turn the hose on you!" he bellowed, making a dash for the
interior of the car, where it was his intention to turn on the
boiling hot water and steam.

"I guess it's time to leave," decided Teddy. Quickly hopping
down he ran and hid behind a freight car a short distance from
the show car. When Mr. Snowden came out, grasping the hissing
hose, his victim was nowhere to be seen.

Uttering angry imprecations and threats the manager returned
to his office, changed his clothes, then strode off up town
to a hotel to get a bath, of which he was very much in need
at the moment.

"I guess he will be cooled off by the time he gets back," decided
Teddy, emerging from his hiding place. "I think I will go back
to work. I must earn my money somehow. That man is crazy, but I
have an idea he will be sane after I get through with him."

Teddy returned to his paste-making. Henry, the porter, was
so frightened that he hardly dared talk to Teddy, for fear
the manager might catch him doing so and vent his wrath on
the Englishman.

As the Circus Boy had surmised Mr. Snowden returned after a two
hours' absence, much chastened in spirit. He did not even look
at Teddy Tucker, though the latter was watching the manager out
of the corners of his eyes. Mr. Snowden went directly to his
stateroom where he locked himself in.

"I guess the storm has blown over," decided young Tucker,
grinning to himself. "But won't Phil raise an awful row when he
hears about it!"

The lad quickly learned the paste-making trick, and after dinner
he set to work in earnest. He found it hard work stirring the
stiff paste, and it seemed as if Teddy got the greater part of it
over his clothes and face. He was literally smeared with it,
great splashes of it disfiguring his face and matting his hair.

When the men from the country routes drove in there was a howl
of merriment. The lad did present a ludicrous sight.

"Hello, Spotted Horse!" shouted one of them.

"Hello yourself," growled Teddy, in none too enviable a frame
of mind.

"That's the name. That's the name that fits our friend Tucker!"
cried Missing Link. From that moment on, aboard Car Three, Teddy
Tucker lost his own name and became Spotted Horse.

The men had no sooner unloaded their paste cans than the porter
had told them of the trouble that morning between Teddy and
the manager.

The men howled in their delight. Mr. Snowden, off in his little
office, heard the sounds of merriment and knew that the laughter
was at his expense. His face was black and distorted with rage.

"I'll show them they can't trifle with and insult me,"
he gritted.

At that moment he roared for Billy.

"The regular evening seance is about to begin," announced Billy,
with a grimace, as he turned toward the office.

"Bring the cub, Forrest, along!" shouted the manager.

"Who?" called Conley.

"Forrest and that fool friend of his."

"He means Spotted Horse," suggested Rosie. "Run along,
Spotted Horse. Got your war paint on?"

"I always have my war paint on," grinned Teddy, as he started
toward the private office, following Conley and Phil Forrest.

The three ranged up before the car manager, who surveyed them
with glowering face.

"What have you done today?" he demanded, fixing his gaze
on Billy.

"We got up more than four hundred sheets of paper."

"Four hundred sheets!" groaned Snowden. "What have you fellows
been doing? Sleeping by the roadside?"

"No, sir, we have been working, and Mr. Forrest here pulled off
one of the cleverest hits that's ever been made. He plastered
a silo that stands out like a sore thumb on the landscape, and
which every farmer within ten or twenty miles about will go to
look at."

"Humph, I don't believe it! What have the other men done?"

Conley reported as to the number of sheets that the men had
posted, whereat the manager rose, pounded his desk and, in a
towering rage, expressed his opinion of the tribe of
billposters again.

Billy smiled sarcastically, in which he was joined by Teddy,
but Phil's face was solemn. He was becoming rather tired of
this constant abuse.

"If you have nothing to say to me, I will go back to my place
in the car," spoke up Phil.

Snowden glared at him.

"Did I tell you to leave this room?"

"I believe you did not."

"Then stand there until I tell you to go!"

"Very well, sir."

"Conley, I have called you in here to be a witness to what I am
about to say. Do you hear?"

Billy nodded.

"During the past two days I have been insulted and abused by
those two young cubs there, until it has come to a point where
I appear to be no longer manager of this car. Your men outside
have laughed at my discomfiture--yes, sir, actually made sport
of me."

"I think you are mistaken. I--"

"I am _not_. I am never mistaken. This morning, this fellow
Tucker not only defied me, but turned on the steam when I was
examining a paste pot, and soaked me from head to foot. Then he
ended up by throwing coal at me."

"Yes, and you started the row," retorted Teddy. "The idea of a
big man like you pitching on to a boy. You ought to be ashamed
of yourself."

"Stop it! I'll forget you are a boy if you goad me further.
But I have had enough of it. I'll stand it no longer.
Do you understand?"

No one replied to the question.

"This thing has gone far enough. Have you anything to say for
yourself or your friend here, Forrest?"

"Yes, sir, I have."

"Say it."

"You are the most ill-tempered man it has ever been my experience
to know."

"You're discharged! Both of you! Get off my car instantly!
Do you hear me?"

"I could not very well help hearing you. I am sorry to
disobey you, but we were ordered to Number Three by Mr. Sparling.
We will try to do our duty, but we shall not leave this car
until Mr. Sparling orders us to do so," answered Phil steadily.



Phil had triumphed, but he felt little satisfaction in having
done so.

The manager had ordered the two boys from his office after the
interview and the command to leave the car at once. But the
lads had stayed on, and had gone about their duties, Phil
working with all the force that was in him. He had even
stirred Teddy to a realization of his duty and the latter
had done very well, indeed.

A week had passed and the car was now in South Dakota.
>From there they were to make a detour and drop down into
Kansas, whence their course would be laid across the
plains and on into the more mountainous country.

Mr. Snowden had studiously avoided the boys; in fact he had not
spoken a word to them since the interview in the stateroom, but
he had bombarded Mr. James Sparling with messages and demands
that the Circus Boys be withdrawn from the car, renewing his
threats to leave in case his demand was not complied with.

One bright Sunday morning the car rolled into the station at
Aberdeen, South Dakota, and as it came to a stop a messenger boy
boarded it with a message for Billy Conley.

Billy looked surprised, and even more so after he had perused the
message itself. He quickly left the car, saying he would return
after breakfast, but instead of going directly to breakfast, he
proceeded to the best hotel in the place, where he called for a
certain man, at the desk.

Billy spent some two hours with the man whom he had gone to see,
after which he returned to the car. There was a twinkle in his
eyes, as he looked at the Circus Boys, who were at that moment
getting ready to go to church, a duty that Phil never neglected.
He still remembered the time when he used to go to church on
Sunday mornings, holding to his mother's hand. Never a Sunday
passed that he did not think of it.

"Will you go with us, Billy?" he asked, noting the gaze of the
assistant manager fixed upon him.

"Not this morning. I expect company," answered Billy with
a grin.

Teddy eyed him suspiciously.

"Billy is up to some tricks this morning. I can see it in his
eyes," announced Tucker shrewdly. "I guess I will stay and see
what's going on."

"No; you will come with me," replied Phil decisively.
So Teddy went.

Shortly after their departure a gentleman boarded the car, at the
stateroom end, and walked boldly into the office.

The man was James Sparling, owner of the Sparling Combined Shows.

Mr. Snowden sprang up, surprise written all over his face.

"Why, Mr. Sparling!" he greeted the caller. "I did not
expect you."

"No; my visit is something of a surprise, but it is time I
came on. Where are the boys?"

"You mean young Forrest and Tucker?" asked the manager, his
smile fading.


"The young cubs have gone to church. A likely pair they are!
What did you mean by turning loose a bunch like that on me?"

There was a slight tightening of Mr. Sparling's lips.

"What seems to be the trouble with them?"

"Insubordination. They are the worst boys I ever came across in
all my experience."

"Have you done as I requested, and helped them to learn
the business?"

"I have not!"

"May I inquire why not?"

"My telegrams should be sufficient answer to that question.
Both of them are hopeless. I want nothing to do with either
of them. They have thoroughly disorganized this car, and
each of them has assaulted me. Had I followed the promptings
of my own inclinations I should have smashed their heads
before this. But I considered their youth."

Mr. Sparling leaned back and laughed.

"I am glad you did not try it."

"Why?" demanded the manager suddenly.

"Because you would have got the thrashing of your life.
Mr. Snowden, I am fully informed as to what has been
going on in this car."

"So, that's it; those cubs have been spying on me and reporting
to you, eh? I might have known it."

"You are mistaken," answered the owner calmly. "While they had
sufficient provocation to do so, not a murmur has come from
either of them. They have taken their medicine like men. I make
it a rule to keep posted on what is going on in every department
of my show. I therefore know, better than perhaps you yourself
could tell me, what has been going on on Car Three. And it is
going to stop right here and now."

"What do you mean?"

"In the first place, the work has been unsatisfactory. The men
have done as well as could be expected of them, but they have
been in such a constant state of rebellion because of your
attitude that the work was bound to suffer."

"You are very frank, sir."

"That's my way of doing business. You not only have neglected
the work but you have openly defied me and my orders."

"That's exactly what these young cubs have done with me,"
interposed the manager quickly.

"My information is quite to the contrary. However, be that as it
may, I have decided to make a change."

"Make a change?"


"I do not understand."

"Then I will make it more plain. I'm through with you."

"You mean you discharge me?"

"You have guessed it."

The manager smiled a superior sort of smile.

"You forget I have a contract with you. You can't discharge me
until the end of the season."

"And you forget that I have already done so. Here! You see, I
come prepared for your objections. Here is a check for your
salary to the end of the season. We are quits. I do not have to
do even that, but no one can say that James Sparling doesn't do
business on the square."

The manager turned a shade paler.

"I--I'm sorry. When--when do you wish me to leave?"

"Now--this minute! I want you to get off this car, and if you
don't get off bag and baggage inside of five minutes, I shall
make it my personal business to throw you off," announced the
showman with rising color. He had contained himself as long as
he could. The indignities to which his Circus Boys had been
subjected, ever since they joined the car, had stirred the
showman profoundly.

"It is now a quarter to twelve. At noon sharp, your baggage and
yourself will be outside of this car. I am in charge here now."

The showman leaned back and watched his former car manager
hurriedly pack his belongings into a suitcase.

"I'll get even with you for this," snarled Snowden as he walked
from the car, slamming the door after him.

"And a good riddance!" muttered the showman rising. "This will
be a good time for me to look over the books and find out what
shape the car is in."

Mr. Sparling pressed an electric button, and Henry, the porter,
responded to the summons.

"Has Mr. Forrest returned yet?"

"No, sir."

"Is Mr. Conley out there?"

"Yes, sir."

"Send him in."

Billy entered the stateroom, a broad smile on his face.

"Sit down, Billy. Well, our friend has gone. I suppose you
are sorry?"

"On the contrary," replied Billy promptly, "I am tickled
half to death. Now we'll be able to do some real work!
We'll show you what we can do! By the way, Mr. Sparling,
are you intending to carry out the plan you told me about
this morning?"

"Yes. You will have a chance next year."

"Thank you, sir."

"Now, we will go over the books together. I shall have to ask
you some questions as we go along. Please first tell the porter
to send Phil and Teddy in when they return, but not to tell them
who is here."

Billy went out and gave the showman's orders to the porter.
As it chanced there were none of the other men of the crew
on board the car at that time. They knew nothing about the
change that was taking place.

Upon Billy's return he and his chief settled down to a busy few
minutes of going over books and reports. The chief found many
things that did not please him, and his anger grew apace at some
of them.

"I guess I did a good job in getting rid of Snowden. What I
should have done was to have got rid of him before I joined him
out in the spring."

"He was a bad one," agreed Billy. "I can work with most anybody,
but I never could work with the likes of him. The boys are
all right. He wouldn't have had any trouble with them if he'd
used them like human beings. They both put up with more than
I would have stood. But I tell you, that boy, Teddy--Spotted
Horse, the boys call him--did hand it out to the Boss.
If Snowden had stayed here much longer I'd been willing
to lay odds that Teddy would have run him off the car.
Did I tell you about how Phil posted the silo?"

"No; what about it?"

Billy began an enthusiastic narration of Phil's clever piece of
work, Mr. Sparling nodding as the story proceeded.

"I am not surprised. He is a natural born showman. You will
hear great things from Phil Forrest some of these days, and his
friend, Teddy, will not be so far behind, either, when once he
gets settled down."

"I guess they are coming now," spoke up Conley. "Somebody got on
the back platform just now. I'll go out and see."

Billy met the Circus Boys coming in.

"You are wanted in the stateroom," he said.

"More trouble?" laughed Phil.

Billy nodded.

"Maybe, and maybe not, but I reckon the trouble is all over."

Phil and Teddy started for the stateroom. At the door they
halted, scarcely able to believe their eyes. There sat
Mr. Sparling, smiling a welcome to them.

"_Mr. Sparling!_" cried Phil dashing in, with Teddy close at
his heels.

"Yes, I wanted to surprise you," laughed the showman, throwing
an arm about each boy.

"I am so glad to see you," cried Phil, hugging his
employer delightedly.

"And it does my heart good to set eyes on you two once more.
The Sparling organization has not been quite the same since
you left. And, Teddy, we haven't had any excitement since
you left."

"How's the donkey?"

"Kicking everything out of sight that comes near him. He has not
been in the ring since you left," laughed the showman.

"I wish I was back there. I don't like this game for a
little bit."

"You mean you do not like the work?"

"Well, no, not exactly that. The work is all right, but--"

"But what?" persisted Mr. Sparling.

"Never mind, Teddy," interposed Phil. "No tales, you know."

"I'm telling no tales. I said I didn't like it and that's
the truth. May I go back with you, Mr. Sparling?"

"You may if you wish, of course, if you think you want to
leave Phil."

"Is Phil going to stay?"


Teddy drew a long sigh.

"Then, I guess I'll stay, too, but there's going to be trouble on
this car before the season ends, sir."


"Yes, sir."

"What kind of trouble?"

"I'm going to thrash a man within an inch of his life one of
these fine days."

"I am astonished, Teddy. Who is the man?"

"Oh, no matter. A certain party on this car," replied
Teddy airily.

"I sincerely hope you will do nothing of the sort, for conditions
have changed somewhat on Number Three. Behave yourself, Teddy,
and learn all you can. You may be a car manager yourself one of
these times, and all this experience will prove useful to you,"
advised Mr. Sparling.

"Not the kind of experience I have been having; that won't be
useful to me," retorted Teddy.

Mr. Sparling and Phil broke out into a hearty laugh, at which
Teddy looked very much grieved.

"Have you seen Mr. Snowden?" questioned Phil, glancing keenly at
his employer. There was something about the situation that gave
the lad a sudden half-formed idea.

"Yes, I have seen him," answered the showman, his face
sobering instantly.

"Where is he?"

"He has gone away. I might as well tell you, boys. Mr. Snowden
is no longer manager of this car. He is no longer connected with
the Sparling Show in any capacity, nor ever will be again,"
announced Mr. Sparling decisively.

The Circus Boys gazed at him, scarcely able to believe what they
had heard.

"Not--not on this car any more?" questioned Phil.

"Never again, young man."

"Hip, hip, hooray!" shouted Teddy Tucker at the top of his voice,
hurling his hat up to the roof of the car, and beginning a
miniature war dance about the stateroom, until, for the sake of
saving the furniture, Phil grabbed his friend, threw him over on
the divan and sat down on him.

"Now, Mr. Sparling, having disposed of Teddy, I should like to
hear all about it," laughed Phil.

"He is the same old Teddy. I can imagine what a pleasant time
Snowden has had with Tucker on board the same car with him.
There is little more to say. I have been disappointed in Snowden
for sometime. I had about decided to remove him before you
joined the car. I wished, however, to send you boys on, knowing
full well that you would soon find out whether there was any
mistake in my estimate of the man. Then, too, I had other
reasons for sending you in the advance."

"Well, sir, now that he has gone, I will say I am heartily glad
of it, though I am sincerely sorry for Mr. Snowden. He knew the
work; I wish I were half as familiar with it as he is; but I
wouldn't have his disposition--no, not for a million dollars."

"I would," piped Teddy, whom Phil had permitted to get up.
"I'd be willing to be a raging lion for a million dollars."

"Have you decided what you are going to do with Car Three now?"
inquired Phil. "You know I am interested now that I have cast
my lot with it."

"Yes; I certainly have decided. Of course the car will go on
just the same."

"I understand that, but have you made up your mind who you will
appoint as the agent--who will be manager of the car?"

"I have."

"I presume we shall have to get a man before we can go on?"


"Then we shall have to lie here a day, at least. Well, we
can busy ourselves. We are slighting a good many of these
bigger towns. They are not half-billed."

"I am glad to hear you say that. It shows that you are already a
good publicity man. But you will not have to lie here any longer
than you wish," added the showman significantly.

"Will you tell me who the new manager is, Mr. Sparling?"

"Yes. You are the manager of Car Three!" was the
surprising reply.



"Man--Manager of Car Three?" stammered Phil.


Teddy's eyes grew large.

"_That_--manager of Car Three?" he said derisively.

Mr. Sparling gave him a stern glance.

"But, Mr. Sparling, I know so little about the work. Of course I
am proud and happy to be promoted to so responsible a position,
but almost, if not every man on the car, is better equipped for
this work than I am."

"They may be more familiar with some of the details, but as a
whole I do not agree with your view. In two weeks' time you will
have grasped the details, and I will wager that there will not be
a better agent in the United States."

The Circus Boy flushed happily.

"You will have to be alive. But I do not need to say that.
You always are alive. You will have to fight the railroads
constantly, to get your car through on time; you will have
to combat innumerable elements that as yet you have not had
experience with. However, I have no fear. I know the stuff
you are made of. I ought to. I have known you for nearly
five years."

"I will do my best, Mr. Sparling."

There was no laughter in the eyes of the Circus Boy now.

"Then again, you are going right into territory where you will
have the stiffest kind of opposition. At least five shows are
booked for our territory almost from now on."

"Have any of them billed that territory?"

"I think the Wild West Show has. The others are about due
there now."

"It is going to be a hand-to-hand conflict, then?"

"Something of that sort," smiled the showman. "I shall expect
you to beat them all out."

"You are giving me a big contract."

"I am well aware of that. We all have to do the impossible in
the show business. That is a part of the game, and the man who
is not equal to it is not a showman."

Phil squared his shoulders a little.

"Then I will be a showman," he said, in a quiet tone.

"That is the talk. That sounds like Phil Forrest. It is usual
for shows to have a general agent who has charge of all the
advance work, and who directs the cars and the men from some
central point. Heretofore I have done all of this myself, but
our show is getting so large, and there is so much opposition in
the field, that I have been thinking of putting on a general
agent next season. However, we will talk that over later."

"And so you are the car manager, eh," quizzed Teddy.

"It seems so."

"Won't I have a snap now?" chuckled the lad.

"Yes; your work will be done with a snap or back you go to
Mr. Sparling, young man," laughed Phil. "There will be no
drones in this hive."

"What have you been doing?" inquired the owner.

"I'm the dough boy."

"The dough boy?"

"He has been making paste," Phil informed him.

Mr. Sparling laughed heartily.

"I guess we shall have to graduate you from the paste pot and
give you a diploma. I cannot afford to pay a man seventy-five
dollars a week to mix up flour and water."

"And steam," corrected the irrepressible Teddy.

"Should not some press work be done from this car?" asked Phil.

"By all means. It is of vast importance. Hasn't it been done?"

"No, sir; not since I have been on board. I would suggest that
we turn Teddy loose on that; let him call on the newspapers,
together with such other work as I may lay out for him.
Teddy is a good mixer and he will make friends of the
newspaper men easily."

"A most excellent idea. I leave these matters all in your hands.
As to matters of detail, in regard to the outside work, I would
suggest that you consult Conley freely. He is a good, honest
fellow, and had he a better education he would advance rapidly.
I intend to promote him next season. Conley told me, this
morning, of your brilliant exploit in billing the silo."

"Oh, you saw him this morning? Now I understand why he
hurried away and came back all smiles. You--you told him
I was to be manager?"


"What did he say?"

"He was as pleased as a child with a new toy. He said you were a
winner in the advance game."

"Will he tell the men?"

"No. That will be left for you to do in your own way."

Phil nodded reflectively.

"And now let us go into the details. We will first look over
the railroad contracts, together with the livery, hotel and
other contracts. I am going to leave you five hundred dollars
in cash, and each week you will send in your payroll to the
treasurer, who will forward the money by express to cover it.
The five hundred is for current expenses. Spend money with a
lavish hand, where necessary to advance the interests of the
show, and pinch every penny like a miser where it is
not necessary. That is the way to run a show."

Phil never forgot the advice.

"And Teddy?"

"Yes, sir."

"You may, in addition to your other duties, act as a sort of
office assistant and secretary to Phil. I shall make only one
request of you. Write to me every night, giving a full account
of the day's doings, with any suggestions or questions that Phil
may ask you to make, and enclose this with the report sheet.
You understand, Phil, that your regular detailed reports go
to the car behind you. The one that comes to me is a
brief summary."

"I understand."

"Have you the route?"

"No, sir."

"Perhaps it is in the desk. Yes; here it is. Now and then we
shall have to make changes in it, of which I shall advise you,
in most instances, by telegraph. Wire me every morning as to
your whereabouts so I may keep in touch with you."

"You may depend upon me, sir."

"I know it."

For the next half hour Mr. Sparling and Phil were deeply engaged
in poring over the books, the contracts and the innumerable
details appertaining to the work of an advance car.

"There, I guess we have touched upon most everything. Of course
emergencies will arise daily. Were it not for those anyone could
run a car. No two days are alike in any department of the
circus business. You will meet all emergencies and cope with
them nobly. Of that I am confident. And now, Mr. Philip
Forrest, I officially turn over to you Advertising Car Number
Three of the Sparling Shows. I wish you good luck and no
railroad wrecks. Come and have lunch with me; then I'll be
getting back to the show. The rest is up to you."

"Mr. Sparling," said Phil with a slight quaver in his voice, "if
I succeed it will be because of the training you have given me.
I won't say I thank you, for I do not know whether I do or not.
I may make an awful mess of it. In that case I shall suffer a
sad fall in your estimation. But it is not my intention to make
a mess of it, just the same."

"You won't. Come along, Teddy. We will have a meal, and it
won't be at a contract hotel, either," said the showman, with a
twinkle in his eyes.

The three left the car. Several of the men had returned from
their lunch, and the word quickly spread through the car that
Mr. Sparling was there. Rumors of high words between the
showman and Snowden were rife, but none appeared to know
anything definite as to what had really occurred.

Conley knew, but he preserved a discreet silence.

"I reckon, if they wanted us to know what was going on they
would tell us," declared Rosie the Pig. "That's the trouble
with these cars. We ain't human. We ain't supposed to
know anything."

"Rosie, don't talk. Someday you might make a mistake and really
say something worth listening to," advised Slivers.

For some reason the men evinced no inclination to leave the car.
They hung about, perhaps waiting for something to turn up.
Each felt that there was something in the air, nor were
they mistaken.

It was nearly three o'clock when Phil and Teddy returned to
the car. Mr. Sparling was not with them. The lads went direct
to the office, unlocked the door and entered.

The men looked at each other and nodded as if to say, "I told you
so," but none ventured to speak.

After what seemed a long wait Phil stepped from the office,
followed by Teddy. They heard the lads coming down the corridor.
Phil stopped when he reached the main part of the car. His face
was solemn.

"Boys," he began, "I have some news for you. Mr. Sparling has
been here today, as you probably know."

Some of the men nodded.

"The next piece of news is that Mr. Snowden has closed with
the car. He is no longer manager."

Phil paused, as if to accentuate his words. The men set up a
great shout. It was a full minute before they settled down to
listen to his further remarks.

"What I am about to say further is the most difficult thing I
ever did in my life. I would prefer to turn, or to try to turn,
a triple somersault off a springboard. Mr. Sparling has
appointed me manager of Car Three. I suppose, instead of Phil
Forrest, I shall be referred to as The Boss after this."

The whole crew sprang to their feet.

"Three cheers for The Boss!" shouted the Missing Link.

"Hip, hip, hooray! Tiger!" howled the crew, while Phil stood
blushing like a girl. Teddy was swelling with pride.

"I'm it, too," he chimed in, tapping his chest significantly.

"Boys," continued Phil, "I probably know less about the actual
work of the advance than any man here. Anyone of you can give
me points."

"No, we can't," interrupted several voices at once.

"I am also younger than any of you. I know a great deal about
the business back with the show, but not much of what should
be done ahead. But I am going to know all about it in a very
short time. While I shall be the Boss, I am going to be the
friend of every man here. You are not going to be abused.
Just so long as you do your work you will be all right.
The first man caught shirking his work closes then and there.
But I shall have to look to you for my own success.
I'll work _with_ you. I understand that we have strong
opposition ahead of us. Let's you and me take off our coats,
tighten our belts, sail in with our feet, our hands and our
heads--and beat the enemy to a standstill! Will you do it?"

"We will, you bet!" shouted the crew.

"We will beat them to a frazzle," added Rosie the Pig.

"That will be about all from you, Rosie," rebuked the
Missing Link.

"This car leaves at eight o'clock this evening. After we
get started, come in and I will give you all your assignments
for tomorrow. My friend, Teddy, has been promoted to the
position of press agent with the car, and a few other things
at the same time. Henry, you will attend to the paste-making,
beginning tomorrow. This being a billboard town, I am going
to skip it and get into the territory where the opposition
is stronger. I have arranged with the local billposters
to take care of the work here."

"That is all I have to say just now, boys. When you have
anything to ask or to suggest, you know where the office is.
Mr. Conley, will you please come to the office now? We have
quite a lot to talk over."

The men gave three rousing cheers.

Phil Forrest had made his debut as a car manager in a most
auspicious manner, at the same time winning the loyalty of every
man on the car.



"Well, this is what I call pretty soft," chuckled Teddy Tucker.

Car Three was under motion again, bowling along for the next
stand, fifty miles away. The lads were sitting in their cosy
office, Teddy lounging back on the divan, Phil in an easy chair
at the roll-top desk. The lights shed a soft glow over the room;
the bell rope above their heads swayed, tapping its rings with
the regularity of the tick of a watch.

"Who sleeps upstairs, you or I?" asked Teddy.

"I will, if you prefer the lower berth."

"I do. It has springs under it."

"You will wish it had no springs, one of these nights, when you
get bounced out of bed to the floor. Do you know that Pullman
cars have no springs?"

"No; is that so?"

"That is the fact."


"Because, on rough or crooked roads, most of the passengers
would be sleeping in the aisle. All hands would be bounced out.
You are welcome to the lower berth."

"Shall we turn in and try them?"

"No; I am going to wait until we get to our destination. I want
to see that the car is properly placed, in view of the fact that
this is our first night in charge. I want to know how everything
is handled by the railroad. You may go to bed if you wish."

"No; I guess I will sit up. I have a book to read. This is too
fine to spoil by going to bed. I could sit up all night looking
at the place. Why, this is just like being on a private car,
isn't it?"

"It is a private car."

There were delays along the route to the next stand, and the car
was laid over for more than an hour at a junction point, so that
it was well past midnight when they reached their destination.

Phil and Teddy both went outside when the train entered the
yards, Tucker hopping off as they swung into the station.

"Where are you going?" called Phil.

"Going to see if I can find anything that looks like food,"
answered Teddy, strolling away. "My stomach must have attention.
It's been hours since it had any material to work with. Will you
come along?"

"No; I am going to bed as soon as we get placed."

"Bad habit to go to bed on an empty stomach," called back the
irrepressible Teddy.

The train that had drawn them uncoupled and started away; in a
few moments a switching engine backed down, hooked to the show
car and tore back and forth through the yards, finally placing
the car at the far side of the yard behind a long row of
freight cars.

All the men on board were asleep, and now that the car would not
be disturbed before morning, Phil entered his stateroom and went
to bed.

He had not been asleep long when he felt himself being
violently shaken. A hand, an insistent hand, was on
his shoulder.

"Phil, wake up! Wake up!"

The boy was out of bed instantly.

"What is it? Oh, that you, Teddy? What did you wake me up for?"

"You'll be glad I did wake you when you hear what I have to say."

"Then hurry up and say it. I am so sleepy I can scarcely keep my
eyes open. What time is it?"

"Half-past one."

"Goodness, and we have to get up before five o'clock! What is it
you wanted to tell me? Nothing is wrong, I hope."

"I don't know. But there is something doing."

"Well, well, what is it?"

"I think there is another show car in the yards."

"A show car?"


"You don't say!"

"I _do_ say."

"Who's car is it?"

"I didn't wait to look. I saw the engine shift it in."

"Where is it?"

"Way over the other side of the station, on the last track."

Phil sprang for his trousers, getting into them in short order,
while Teddy looked on inquiringly.

"Anybody would think you were a fireman the way you tear into
those pants. What's your rush?"

"Rush? Teddy Tucker, we have business on hand."


"Yes, business. It's mighty lucky for us that your appetite
called you out. I shall never go to sleep again without knowing
who is in the yard, and where. Come and show me where they are."

"I'm sorry I told you."

"And I am mighty thankful. You see, something told me to leave
that last town and hurry on."

"Something tells me to go to bed," growled Teddy.

"You come along with me, and be quiet. Was the car dark?"

"I guess so."

The boys hurried from Car Three; that is, Phil did, Teddy
lagging behind.

"Over that way," he directed.

Phil crawled under a freight car to take a short cut, and ran
lightly across the railroad yards. The boys passed the station;
then, crossing several switches, they beheld a big, yellow car
looming up faintly under the lights of the station.

"It is an advertising car," breathed Phil. "I wonder whose it
can be?"

"You can search me," grumbled Teddy. "Guess I'll go back to
bed now."

"You wait until I tell you to go back," commanded Phil.
"Keep quiet, now."

The Circus Boy crept up to the car with great caution. The light
was so faint, however, that he was obliged to go close to it
before he could read the letters on the side of it. Even then he
had to take the letters one by one and follow along until he had
read the length of the line.

"Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth," was what Phil
Forrest read, and on the end of the car a big figure "4."

"Car Four," he muttered. "Here's trouble right from the start.
I am right in the thick of it from the word go."

Phil walked back to where Teddy was awaiting him.

"Find out whose car it is?"

"Yes; Barnum & Bailey."

"Humph! Let's go back to bed."

"There will be no bed for us tonight, I fear. Wait; let
me think."

Phil walked over and sat down on a truck on the station platform,
where he pondered deeply and rapidly.

"All right; I have it figured out. We have our work cut out
for us. You wait here while I run back to the car."

Teddy curled up on the truck, promptly going to sleep, while Phil
hurried to the car to get the address of the liveryman who had
the contract for running the country routes for the show.

The lad came running back, and, darting into the station, found
a telephone. After some delay he succeeded in reaching the
livery stable.

"This is Car Three of the Sparling Shows," he said.
"Yes, Car Three. I want those teams at our car at two o'clock
this morning. Not a minute later. Can't do it? You've got to
do it! Do you hear what I say? I want those teams there at
two o'clock. Very well; see that you _do!_"

Out to the platform darted Phil in search of Teddy. The latter
was snoring industriously.

Phil grabbed him by the collar and slammed him down on
the platform.

"Ouch!" howled Teddy.

"Get up, you sleepy-head!"

"I'll friz you for that!" declared Tucker, squaring
off pugnaciously.

"Don't be silly, Teddy. This is the first emergency we have had
to face. Don't let's act like a couple of children. We must
beat the opposition, and I'm going to beat them out, no matter
what the cost or the effort. Listen! I want you to go to the
contract livery stable. Here is the address. Go as fast as your
legs will carry you."

"What, at this time of night?"


"Not I!"

"You go, or you close right here, young man. Come now, Teddy,
old chap, remember the responsibility of this car rests on your
shoulders almost as much as on mine. Let's not have any hanging
back on your part."

"I'm not hanging back. What is it you want me to do? I'm ready
for anything."

"That's the talk. Hustle to the livery stable and camp right on
the trail. See that those teams are here at two o'clock, or by a
quarter after two, at the latest. Have the men drive up quietly,
and you show them the way. Don't you go to sleep at the stable.
Now, foot it!"

Teddy was off at a dogtrot. His pride was aroused.

"I guess we'll clean 'em up!" he growled as he hurried along.

In the meantime, Phil hastened into the station and ran to the
lunch room. It was closed.

"Pshaw!" he muttered.

Phil now turned toward town on a brisk run. After searching
about, he found an all-night eating place that looked as if it
might be clean.

"Put me up ten breakfasts. I have some men that I want to give
an early start. They haven't time to come here. Wrap up the
best breakfasts you can get together. Put in a jug of coffee and
a jug of milk. I will call for the food inside of half an hour.
Don't delay a minute longer than that. Hustle it!"

Phil darted out and back to the car. Every nerve in his body
was centered on the work in hand. He ran to Conley's berth
and shook him.

"What is it?" mumbled Billy sleepily.

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