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´╗┐Title: The Circus Boys Across the Continent; Or, Winning New Laurels on the Tanbark
Author: Darlington, Edgar B. P.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Circus Boys Across the Continent; Or, Winning New Laurels on the Tanbark" ***

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

by Edgar B. P. Darlington



CONTENTS



CHAPTER

I     The Boys Hear Good News
II    On The Road Once More
III   Phil to Rescue
IV    Renewing Old Acquaintances
V     Doing a Man's Work
VI    The Showman's Reward
VII   Trying The Culprit
VIII  Phil Makes a New Friend
IX    The Mule Distinguishes Himself
X     His First Bareback Lesson
XI    Summoned Before The Manager
XII   The Human Football
XIII  Ducked by an Elephant
XIV   In Dire Peril
XV    Emperor to The Rescue
XVI   An Unexpected Promotion
XVII  The Circus Boys Win New Laurels
XVIII Doing a Double Somersault
XIX   Marooned in a Freight Car
XX    The Barnyard Circus
XXI   When The Crash Came
XXII  What Happened to a Pacemaker
XXIII Searching The Train
XXIV  Conclusion



The Circus Boys Across the Continent



CHAPTER I

THE BOYS HEAR GOOD NEWS

"You never can guess it--you never can guess the news, Teddy,"
cried Phil Forrest, rushing into the gymnasium, his face flushed
with excitement.

Teddy Tucker, clad in a pair of linen working trunks and a
ragged, sleeveless shirt, both garments much the worse for their
winter's wear, was lazily swinging a pair of Indian clubs.

"What is it, some kind of riddle, Phil?" he questioned, bringing
the clubs down to his sides.

"Do be serious for a minute, won't you?"

"Me, serious?  Why, I never cracked a smile.  Isn't anything to
smile at.  Besides, do you know, since I've been in the circus
business, every time I want to laugh I check myself so suddenly
that it hurts?"

"How's that?"

"Because I think I've still got my makeup on and that I'll crack
it if I laugh."

"What, your face?"

"My face?  No!  My makeup.  By the time I remember that I haven't
any makeup on I've usually forgotten what it was I wanted to
laugh about.  Then I don't laugh."

Teddy shied an Indian club at a rat that was scurrying across the
far end of their gymnasium, missing him by half the width of
the building.

"If you don't care, of course I shan't tell you.  But it's good
news, Teddy.  You would say so if you knew it."

"What news?  Haven't heard anything that sounds like news,"
his eyes fixed on the hole into which the rat had disappeared.

"You can't guess where we are going this summer?"

"Going?  Don't have to guess.  I know," answered the lad with an
emphasizing nod.

"Where do you think?"

"We're going out with the Great Sparling Combined Shows,
of course.  Didn't we sign out for the season before we closed
with the show last fall?"

"Yes, yes; but where?" urged Phil, showing him the letter he
had just brought from the post office.  "You couldn't guess if
you tried."

"No.  Never was a good guesser.  That letter from Mr. Sparling?"
he questioned, as his eyes caught the familiar red and gold
heading used by the owner of the show.

"Yes."

"What's he want?"

"You know I wrote to him asking that we be allowed to skip the
rehearsals before the show starts out, so that we could stay here
and take our school examinations?"

Teddy nodded.

"I'd rather join the show," he grumbled.

"Never did see anything about school to go crazy over."

"You'll thank me someday for keeping you at it," said Phil.
"See how well you have done this winter with your school work.
I'm proud of you.  Why, Teddy, there are lots of the boys a long
way behind you.  They can't say circus boys don't know anything
just because they perform in a circus ring."

"H-m-m-m!" mused Teddy.  "You haven't told me yet where we are
going this summer.  What's the route?"

"Mr. Sparling says that, as we are going to continue our
last year's acts this season, there will be no necessity
for rehearsals."

The announcement did not appear to have filled Teddy Tucker
with joy.

"We do the flying rings again, then?"

"Yes.  And we shall be able to give a performance that will
surprise Mr. Sparling.  Our winter's practicing has done a lot
for us, as has our winter at school."

"Oh, I don't know."

"You probably will ride the educated mule again, while I expect
to ride the elephant Emperor in the grand entry, as I did before.
I'll be glad to get under the big top again, with the noise and
the people, the music of the band and all that.  Won't you,
Teddy?"
questioned Phil, his eyes glowing at the picture he had drawn.

Teddy heaved a deep sigh.

"Quit it!"

"Why?"

" 'Cause you make me think I'm there now."

Phil laughed softly.

"I can see myself riding the educated mule this very minute,
kicking up the dust of the ring, making everybody get out of the
way, and--"

"And falling off," laughed Phil.  "You certainly are the
most finished artist in the show when it comes to getting
into trouble."

"Yes; I seem to keep things going," grinned the lad.

"But I haven't told you all that Mr. Sparling says in
the letter."

"What else does he say?"

"That the show is to start from its winter quarters, just outside
of Germantown, Pennsylvania, on April twenty-second--"

"Let's see; just two weeks from today," nodded Teddy.

"Yes."

"I wish it was today."

"He says we are to report on the twenty-first, as the show leaves
early in the evening."

"Where do we show first?"

"Atlantic City.  Then we take in the Jersey Coast towns--"

"Do we go to New York?"

"New York?  Oh, no!  The show isn't big enough for New York quite
yet, even if it is a railroad show now.  We've got to grow some
before that.  Mighty few shows are large enough to warrant taking
them into the big city."

"How do you know?"

"All the show people say that."

"Pshaw!  I'd sure make a hit in New York with the mule."

"Time enough for that later.  You and I will yet perform in
Madison Square Garden.  Just put that down on your route card,
Teddy Tucker."

"Humph!  If we don't break our necks before that!  Where did you
say we were--"

"After leaving New Jersey, we are to play through New York State,
taking in the big as well as the small towns, and from Buffalo
heading straight west.  Mr. Sparling writes that we are going
across the continent."

"What?"

"Says he's going to make the Sparling Shows known from the
Atlantic to the Pacific--"

"Across the continent!" exclaimed Teddy unbelievingly.
"No; you're fooling."

"Yes; clear to the Pacific Coast.  We're going to
San Francisco, too.  What do you think of that, Teddy?"

"Great!  Wow!  Whoop!" howled the boy, hurling his remaining
Indian Club far up among the rafters of the gymnasium, whence it
came clattering down, both lads laughing gleefully.

"We're going to see the country this time, and we shan't have to
sleep out in an open canvas wagon, either."

"Where shall we sleep?"

"Probably in a car."

"It won't be half so much fun," objected Teddy.

"I imagine the life will be different.  Perhaps we shall not have
so much fun, but we'll have the satisfaction of knowing that we
are part of a real show.  It will mean a lot to us to be with an
organization like that.  It will give us a better standing in the
profession, and possibly by another season we may be able to get
with one of the really big ones.  Next spring, if we have good
luck, we shall have finished with our school here.  If they'll
have us, we'll try to join out with one of them.  In the meantime
we must work hard, Teddy, so we shall be in fine shape when we
join out two weeks from today.  Come on; I'll wrestle you a
few falls."

"Done," exclaimed Teddy.

Phil promptly threw off his coat and vest.  A few minutes later
the lads were struggling on the wrestling mat, their faces
dripping with perspiration, their supple young figures twisting
and turning as each struggled for the mastery of the other.

The readers of the preceding volume in this series, entitled,
THE CIRCUS BOYS ON THE FLYING RINGS, will recognize Phil and
Teddy
at once as the lads who had so unexpectedly joined the Sparling
Combined Shows the previous summer.  It was Phil who, by his
ready resourcefulness, saved the life of the wife of the owner of
the show as well as that of an animal trainer later on.  Then,
too,
it will be remembered how the lad became the fast friend of the
great elephant Emperor, which he rescued from "jail," and with
which he performed in the ring to the delight of thousands.
Ere the close of the season both boys had won their way to the
flying rings, thus becoming full-fledged circus performers.
Before leaving the show they had signed out for another season
at a liberal salary.

With their savings, which amounted to a few hundred dollars, the
boys had returned to their home at Edmeston, there to put in the
winter at school.

That they might lose nothing of their fine physical condition,
the Circus Boys had rented an old carpenter shop, which they
rigged up as a gymnasium, fitting it with flying rings, trapeze
bars and such other equipment as would serve to keep them in trim
for the coming season's work.

Here Phil and Teddy had worked long hours after school.
During the winter they had gained marked improvement in
their work, besides developing some entirely new acts on
the flying rings.  During this time they had been living with
Mrs. Cahill, who, it will be remembered, had proved herself a
real friend to the motherless boys.

Now, the long-looked-for day was almost at hand when they should
once more join the canvas city for a life in the open.

The next two weeks were busy ones for the lads, with their
practice and the hard study incident to approaching examinations.
Both boys passed with high standing.  Books were put away,
gymnasium apparatus stored and one sunlit morning two slender,
manly looking young fellows, their faces reflecting perfect
health and happiness, were at the railroad station waiting for
the train which should bear them to the winter quarters of
the show.

Fully half the town had gathered to see them off, for Edmeston
was justly proud of its Circus Boys.  As the train finally drew
up and the lads clambered aboard, their school companions set up
a mighty shout, with three cheers for the Circus Boys.

"Don't stick your head in the lion's mouth, Teddy!" was the
parting salute Phil and Teddy received from the boys as the train
drew out.

"Well, Teddy, we're headed for the Golden Gate at last!"
glowed Phil.

"You bet!" agreed Teddy with more force than elegance.

"I wonder if old Emperor will remember me, Teddy?"

"Sure thing!  But, do you think that 'fool mule,' as Mr. Sparling
calls him, will remember me?  Or will he want to kick me full of
holes before the season has really opened?"

"I shouldn't place too much dependence on a mule," laughed Phil.
"Come on; let's go inside and sit down."



CHAPTER II

ON THE ROAD ONCE MORE

All was bustle and excitement.

Men were rushing here and there, shouting out hoarse commands.
Elephants were trumpeting shrilly, horses neighing; while, from
many a canvas-wrapped wagon savage beasts of the jungle were
emitting roar upon roar, all voicing their angry protest at being
removed from the winter quarters where they had been at rest for
the past six months.

The Great Sparling Combined Shows were moving out for their long
summer's journey.  The long trains were being rapidly loaded when
Phil Forrest and Teddy Tucker arrived on the scene late in
the afternoon.

It was all new and strange to them, unused as they were to the
ways of a railroad show.  Their baggage had been sent on ahead of
them, so they did not have that to bother with.  Each carried a
suitcase, however, and the boys were now trying to find someone
in authority to ask where they should go and what they should do.

"Hello, Phil, old boy!" howled a familiar voice.

"Who's that?" demanded Teddy.

"Why, it's Rod Palmer, our working mate on the rings!" cried
Phil, dropping his bag and darting across the tracks, where he
had espied a shock of very red hair that he knew could belong
only to Rodney Palmer.

Teddy strolled over with rather more dignity.

"Howdy?" he greeted just as Phil and the red-haired boy were
wringing each other's hands.  "Anybody'd think you two were long
lost brothers."

"We are, aren't we, Rod?" glowed Phil.

"And we have been, ever since you boys showed me the brook where
I could wash my face back in that tank town where you two lived.
That was last summer.  Seems like it was yesterday."

"Yes, and we work together again, I hear?  I'm glad of that.
I guess you've been doing something this winter," decided Rodney,
after a critical survey of the lads.  "You sure are both in
fine condition.  Quite a little lighter than you were last
season, aren't you, Phil?"

"No; I weigh ten pounds more."

"Then you must be mighty hard."

"Hard as a keg of nails, but I hope not quite so stiff,"
laughed Phil.

"What you been working at?"

"Rings, mostly.  We've done some practicing on the trapeze.
What did you do all winter?"

"Me?  Oh, I joined a team that was playing vaudeville houses.
I was the second man in a ring act.  Made good money and saved
most of it.  Why didn't you join out for the vaudeville?"

"We spent our winter at school," answered Phil.

"That's a good stunt at that.  In the tank town, I suppose?"
grinned the red-haired boy.

"You might call it that, but it's a pretty good town, just the
same," replied Phil.  "I saw many worse ones while we were out
last season."

"And you'll see a lot more this season.  Wait till we get to
playing some of those way-back western towns.  I was out there
with a show once, and I know what I'm talking about.  Where are
you berthed?"

"I don't know," answered Phil.  "Where are you?"

"Car number fourteen.  Haven't seen the old man, then?"

"Mr. Sparling?  No.  And I want to see him at once.  Where shall
I find him?"

"He was here half an hour ago.  Maybe he's in his office."

"Where is that?"

"Private car number one.  Yes; the old man has his own elegant
car this season.  He's living high, I tell you.  No more sleeping
out in an old wagon that has no springs.  It will be great to get
into a real bed every night, won't it?"

Teddy shook his head doubtfully.

"I don't know 'bout that."

"I should think it would be pretty warm on a hot night,"
nodded Phil.

"And what about the rainy nights?" laughed Rodney.  "Taking it
altogether, I guess I'll take the Pullman for mine--"

"There goes Mr. Sparling now," interjected Teddy.

"Where?"

"Just climbing aboard a car.  See him?"

"That's number one," advised Rodney.  "Better skip, if you want
to catch him.  He's hard to land today.  There's a lot for him to
look after."

"Yes; come on, Teddy.  Get your grip," said Phil, hurrying over
to where he had dropped his suitcase.

"But it's going to be a great show," called Rodney.

"Especially the flying-ring act," laughed Phil.

A few minutes later both boys climbed aboard the private car,
and, leaving their bags on the platform, pushed open the door
and entered.

Mr. Sparling was seated at a roll-top desk in an office-like
compartment, frowning over some document that he held in
his hand.

The boys waited until he should look up.  He did so suddenly,
peering at them from beneath his heavy eyebrows.  Phil was not
sure, from the showman's expression, whether he had recognized
them or not.  Mr. Sparling answered this question almost at once.

"How are you, Forrest?  Well, Tucker, I suppose you've come back
primed to put my whole show to the bad, eh?"

"Maybe," answered Teddy carelessly.

"Oh, maybe, eh?  So that's the way the flag's blowing, is it?
Well, you let me catch you doing it and--stand up here, you two,
and let me look at you."

He gazed long and searchingly at the Circus Boys, noting every
line of their slender, shapely figures.

"You'll do," he growled.

"Yes, sir," answered Phil, smiling.

"Shake hands."

Mr. Sparling thrust out both hands toward them with almost
disconcerting suddenness.

"Ouch!" howled Teddy, writhing under the grip the showman gave
him, but if Phil got a pressure of equal force he made no sign.

"Where's your baggage?"

"We sent our trunks on yesterday.  I presume they are here
somewhere, sir."

"If they're not in your car, let me know."

"If you will be good enough to tell me where our car is I will
find out at once."

The showman consulted a typewritten list.

"You are both in car number eleven.  The porter will show you the
berths that have been assigned to you, and I hope you will both
obey the rules of the cars."

"Oh, yes, sir," answered Phil.

"I know you will, but I'm not so sure of your fat friend here.
I think it might be a good plan to tie him in his berth, or he'll
be falling off the platform some night, get under the wheels and
wreck the train."

"I don't walk in my sleep," answered Teddy.

"Oh, you don't?"

"I don't."

Mr. Sparling frowned; then his face broke out into a broad smile.

"I always said you were hopeless.  Run along, and get
settled now.  You understand that you will keep your berth
all season, don't you?"

"Yes, sir.  What time do we go out?"

"One section has already gone.  The next and last will leave
tonight about ten o'clock.  We want to make an early start, for
the labor is all green.  It'll take three times as long to put up
the rag as usual."

"The rag?  What's the rag?" questioned Teddy.

"Beg pardon," mocked Mr. Sparling.  "I had forgotten that you are
still a Reuben.  A rag is a tent, in show parlance."

"Oh!"

"Any orders after we get settled?" asked Phil.

"Nothing for you to do till parade time tomorrow.  You will look
to the same executives that you did last year.  There has been no
change in them."

The lads hurried from the private car, and after searching about
the railroad yard for fully half an hour they came upon car
number eleven.  This was a bright, orange-colored car with the
name of the Sparling Shows painted in gilt letters near the roof,
just under the eaves.  The smell of fresh paint was everywhere,
but the wagons being covered with canvas made it impossible for
them to see how the new wagons looked.  There were many of these
loaded on flat cars, with which the railroad yard seemed to
be filled.

"Looks bigger than Barnum & Bailey's," nodded Teddy,
feeling a growing pride that he was connected with so great
an organization.

"Not quite, I guess," replied Phil, mounting the platform of
number eleven.

The boys introduced themselves to the porter, who showed them
to their berths.  These were much like those in the ordinary
sleeper, except that the upper berths had narrow windows looking
out from them.  Across each berth was stretched a strong piece
of twine.

Phil asked the porter what the string was for.

"To hang your trousers on, sah," was the enlightening answer.
"There's hooks for the rest of your clothes just outside
the berths."

"This looks pretty good to me," said Phil, peering out through
the screened window of his berth.

"Reminds me of when I used to go to sleep in the woodbox behind
the stove where I lived last year in Edmeston," grumbled Teddy
in a muffled voice, as he rummaged about his berth trying to
accustom himself to it.  Teddy never had ridden in a sleeping
car, so it was all new and strange to him.

"Say, who sleeps upstairs?" he called to the porter.

"The performers, sah--some of them.  This heah is the performers'
car, sah."

"How do they get up there?  On a rope ladder?"

Phil shouted.

"You ninny, this isn't a circus performance.  No; of course they
don't climb up on a rope ladder as if they were starting a
trapeze act."

"How, then?"

"The porter brings out a little step ladder, and it's just like
walking upstairs, only it isn't."

"Huh!" grunted Teddy.  "Do they have a net under them all night?"

"A net?  What for?"

"Case they fall out of bed."

"Put him out!" shouted several performers who were engaged in
settling themselves in their own quarters.  "He's too new for
this outfit."

Phil drew his companion aside and read him a lecture on not
asking so many questions, advising Teddy to keep his ears and
eyes open instead.

Teddy grumbled and returned to the work of unpacking his bag.

Inquiry for their trunks developed the fact that they would have
to look for these in the baggage car; that no trunks were allowed
in the sleepers.

Everything about the car was new and fresh, the linen white and
clean, while the wash room, with its mahogany trimmings, plate
glass mirrors and upholstered seats, was quite the most elaborate
thing that Teddy had ever seen.

He called to Phil to come and look at it.

"Yes, it is very handsome.  I am sure we shall get to be very
fond of our home on wheels before the season is ended.  I'm going
out now to see if our trunks have arrived."

Phil, after some hunting about, succeeded in finding the baggage
man of the train, from whom he learned that the trunks had
arrived and were packed away in the baggage car.

By this time night had fallen.  With it came even greater
confusion, while torches flared up here and there to light the
scene of bustle and excitement.

It was all very confusing to Phil, and he was in constant fear of
being run down by switching engines that were shunting cars back
and forth as fast as they were loaded, rapidly making up the
circus train.  The Circus Boy wondered if he ever could get used
to being with a railroad show.

"I must be getting back or I shall not be able to find number
eleven," decided Phil finally.  "I really haven't the least idea
where it is now."

The huge canvas-covered wagons stood up in the air like a
procession of wraiths of the night, muttered growls and guttural
coughs issuing from their interiors.  All this was disturbing to
one not used to it.

Phil started on a run across the tracks in search of his car.

In the meantime Teddy Tucker, finding himself alone, had
sauntered forth to watch the loading, and when he ventured abroad
trouble usually followed.

The lad soon became so interested in the progress of the work
that he was excitedly shouting out orders to the men, offering
suggestions and criticisms of the way they were doing that work.

Now, most of the men in the labor gang were new--that is, they
had not been with the Sparling show the previous season, and
hence did not know Teddy by sight.  After a time they tired of
his running fire of comment.  They had several times roughly
warned him to go on about his business.  But Teddy did not heed
their advice, and likewise forgot all about that which Phil had
given him earlier in the evening.

He kept right on telling the men how to load the circus, for,
if there was one thing in the world that Teddy Tucker loved more
than another it was to "boss" somebody.

All at once the lad felt himself suddenly seized from behind and
lifted off his feet.  At the same time a rough hand was clapped
over his mouth.

The Circus Boy tried to utter a yell, but he found it impossible
for him to do so.  Teddy kicked and fought so vigorously that it
was all his captor could do to hold him.

"Come and help me.  We'll fix the fresh kid this time," called
the fellow in whose grip the lad was struggling.

"What's the matter, Larry?  Is he too much for you?" laughed the
other man.

"He's the biggest little man I ever got my fists on.  Gimme a
hand here."

"What are you going to do with him?"

"I'll show you in a minute."

"Maybe he's with the show.  He's slippery enough to be
a performer."

"No such thing.  And I don't care if he is.  I'll teach him not
to interfere with the men.  Grab hold and help me carry him."

Together they lifted the kicking, squirming, fighting boy,
carrying him on down the tracks, not putting him down until they
had reached the standpipe of a nearby water tank, where the
locomotives took on their supply of fresh water.

"Jerk that spout around!" commanded Larry, sitting down on Tucker
with a force that made the lad gasp.

"Can't reach the chain."

"Then get a pike pole, and be quick about it.  The foreman will
be looking for us first thing we know.  If he finds us here he'll
fire us before we get started."

"See here, Larry, what are you going to do?" demanded the
other suspiciously.

"My eyes, but you're inquisitive!  Going to wash the kid down.
Next time mebby he won't be so fresh."

And "wash" they did.

Suddenly the full stream from the standpipe spurted down.
Larry promptly let go of his captive.  Teddy was right in the
path of the downpour, and the next instant he was struggling in
the flood.

The showman dropped him and started to run.

Teddy let out a choking howl, grasping frantically for his
tormentor.
A moment later the lad's hands closed over Larry's ankles, and
before
the man was able to free himself from the boy's grip Teddy had
pulled
him down and dragged him under the stream that was pouring down
in a
perfect deluge.  The Circus Boy, being strong and muscular, was
able
to accomplish this with slight exertion.

Larry's companion was making no effort to assist his fallen
comrade.
Instead, the fellow was howling with delight.

No sooner, however, had Teddy raised the man and slammed him down
on his back under the spout, than the lad let go of his victim
and darted off into the shadows.  Teddy realized that it was high
time he was leaving.

The man, fuming with rage, uttering loud-voiced threats of
vengeance, scrambled out of the flood and began rushing up and
down the tracks in search of Teddy.

But the boy was nowhere to be found.  He had hastily climbed over
a fence, where he crouched, dripping wet, watching the antics of
the enraged Larry.

"Guess he won't bother another boy right away," grinned Teddy,
not heeding his own wet and bedraggled condition.

The two showmen finally gave up their quest, and all at once
started on a run in the opposite direction.

"Now, I wonder what's made them run away like that?  Surely they
aren't scared of me.  I wonder?  Guess I'll go over and
find out."

Leaving his hiding place, the lad retraced his steps across the
tracks until finally, coming up with a man, who proved to be the
superintendent of the yard, Teddy asked him where sleeping car
number eleven was located.

"Eleven?  The sleepers have all gone, young man."

"G-g-gone?"

"Yes."

"But I thought--"

"Went out regular on the 9:30 express."

Teddy groaned.  Here he was, left behind before the show
had all gotten away from its winter quarters.  But he noted
that the train bearing the cages and other equipment was still
in the yard.  There was yet a chance for him.

"Wha--what time does that train go?" he asked pointing to the
last section.

"Going now.  Why, what's the matter with you youngster?
The train is moving now."

"Going?  The matter is that I've got to go with them," cried the
lad, suddenly darting toward the moving train.

"Come back here!  Come back!  Do you want to be killed?"

"I've got to get on that train!" Teddy shouted back at
the superintendent.

The great stock cars were rumbling by as the boy drew near the
track, going faster every moment.  By the light of a switch lamp
Teddy could make out a ladder running up to the roof of one of
the box cars.

He could hear the yard superintendent running toward
him shouting.

"He'll have me, if I don't do something.  Then I will be wholly
left," decided Teddy.  "I'm going to try it."

As the big stock car slipped past him the lad sprang up into the
air, his eyes fixed on the ladder.  His circus training came in
handy here, for Teddy hit the mark unerringly, though it had been
considerably above his head.  The next second his fingers closed
over a rung of the ladder, and there he hung, dangling in the
air, with the train now rushing over switches, rapidly gaining
momentum as it stretched out headed for the open country.



CHAPTER III

PHIL TO RESCUE

Phil Forrest was in a panic of uneasiness.

No sooner had his own section started than he made the discovery
that Teddy Tucker was not on board.  Then the lad went through
the train in the hope that his companion had gotten on the
wrong car.  There was no trace of Teddy.

In the meantime Teddy had slowly clambered to the roof of the
stock car, where he stretched himself out, clinging to the
running board, with the big car swaying beneath him.  The wind
seemed, up there, to be blowing a perfect gale, and it was all
the boy could do to hold on.  After a while he saw a light
approaching him.  The light was in the hands of a brakeman who
was working his way over the train toward the caboose.

He soon came up to where Teddy was lying.  There he stopped.

"Well, youngster, what are you doing here?" he demanded, flashing
his light into the face of the uncomfortable Teddy.

"Trying to ride."

"I suppose you know you are breaking the law and that I'll have
to turn you over to a policeman or a constable the next town we
stop at?"

"Nothing of the sort!  What do you take me for?  Think I'm some
kind of tramp?" objected the lad.  "Go on and let me alone."

The brakeman looked closer.  He observed that the boy was soaking
wet, but that, despite this, he was well dressed.

"What are you, if not a tramp?"

"I'm with the show."

The brakeman laughed long and loud, but Teddy was more interested
in the man's easy poise on the swaying car than in what he said.

"Wish I could do that," muttered the lad admiringly.

"What's that?"

"Nothing, only I was thinking out loud."

"Well, you'll get off at the next stop unless you can prove that
you belong here."

"I won't," protested Teddy stubbornly.

"We'll see about that.  Come down here on the flat car behind
this one, and we'll find out.  I see some of the show people
there.
Besides, you're liable to fall off here and get killed.  Come
along."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"I'll fall off if I try to get up."

"And you a showman?" laughed the brakeman satirically, at the
same time grabbing Teddy by the coat collar and jerking him to
his feet.

The trainman did not appear to mind the giddy swaying of the
stock car.  He permitted Teddy to walk on the running board while
he himself stepped carelessly along on the sloping roof of the
car, though not relaxing his grip on the collar of Teddy Tucker.

Bidding the boy to hang to the brake wheel, the brakeman began
climbing down the end ladder, so as to catch Teddy in case he
were to fall.  After him came the Circus Boy, cautiously picking
his way down the ladder.

"Any of you fellows know this kid?" demanded the trainman,
flashing his lantern into Teddy's face.  "He says he's with
the show."

"Put him off!" howled one of the roustabouts who had been
sleeping on the flat car under a cage.  "Never saw him before."

"You sit down there, young man.  Next stop, off you go,"
announced the brakeman sternly.

"I'll bet you I don't," retorted Teddy Tucker aggressively.

"We'll see about that."

"Quit your music; we want to go to sleep," growled a showman
surlily.

The brakeman put down his lantern and seated himself on the side
of the flat car.  He did not propose to leave the boy until he
had seen him safely off the train.

"How'd you get wet?" questioned Tucker's captor.

"Some fellows ducked me."

The trainman roared, which once more aroused the ire of the
roustabouts who were trying to sleep.

They had gone on for an hour, when finally the train slowed down.

"Here's where you hit the ties," advised the brakeman,
peering ahead.

"Where are we?"

"McQueen's siding.  We stop here to let an express by.  And I
want to tell you that it won't be healthy for you if I catch you
on this train again.  Now, get off!"

Teddy making no move to obey, the railroad man gently but firmly
assisted him over the side of the car, dropping him down the
embankment by the side of the track.

"I'll make you pay for this if I ever catch you again,"
threatened Teddy from the bottom of the bank, as he scrambled to
his feet.

Observing that the trainman was holding his light over the side
of the car and peering down at him, Teddy ran along on all fours
until he was out of sight of the brakeman, then he straightened
up and ran toward the rear of the train as fast as his feet would
carry him, while the railroad man began climbing over the cars
again, headed for the caboose at the rear.

Teddy had gained the rear of the train by this time, but he did
not show himself just yet.  He waited until the flagman had come
in, and until the fellow who had put him off had disappeared in
the caboose.

At that, Teddy sprang up, and, swinging to the platform of the
caboose, quickly climbed the iron ladder that led to the roof of
the little boxlike car.  He had no sooner flattened himself on
the roof than the train began to move again.

Only one more stop was made during the night and that for water.
Just before daylight they rumbled into the yards at Atlantic
City, and Teddy scrambled from his unsteady perch, quickly
clambering down so as to be out of the way before the trainmen
should discover his presence.

But quickly as he had acted, he had not been quick enough.
The trainman who had put him off down the line collared the lad
the minute his feet touched the platform of the caboose.

"You here again?" he demanded sternly.

Teddy grinned sheepishly.

"I told you you couldn't put me off."

"We'll see about that.  Here, officer."  He beckoned to a
policeman.
"This kid has been stealing a ride.  I put him off once.  I turn
him
over to you now."

"All right.  Young man, you come with me!"

Teddy protested indignantly, but the officer, with a firm grip on
his arm, dragged the lad along with him.  They proceeded on up
the tracks toward the station, the lad insisting that he was with
the show and that he had a right to ride wherever he pleased.

"Teddy!" shouted a voice, just as they stepped on the long
platform that led down to the street.

"Phil!" howled the lad.  "Come and save me!  A policeman's got me
and he's taking me to jail."

Phil Forrest ran to them.

"Here, here!  What's this boy done?" he demanded.



CHAPTER IV

RENEWING OLD ACQUAINTANCES

"Well, Teddy, I must say you have made a good start," grinned
Phil, after necessary explanations had been made and the young
Circus Boy had been released by the policeman who had him
in tow."  A few minutes more and you would have been in a
police station.  I can imagine how pleased Mr. Sparling would
have been to hear that."

Teddy hung his head.

"Your clothes are a sight, too.  How did--what happened?
Did you fall in a creek, or something of that sort?"

The lad explained briefly how he had been captured by the two men
and ducked under the standpipe of the water tank.

"But I soaked him, too," Tucker added triumphantly."  And I'm
going to soak him again.  The first man I come across whose name
is Larry is going to get it from me," threatened the lad, shaking
his fist angrily.

"You come over to the sleeper with me and get into some decent
looking clothes.  I'm ashamed of you, Teddy Tucker."

"So am I," grinned the boy as they turned to go, Phil leading
the way to the car number eleven, from which the performers
were beginning to straggle, rubbing their eyes and
stretching themselves.

The change of clothing having been made, the lads started for the
lot, hoping that they might find the old coffee stand and have a
cup before breakfast.  To their surprise, upon arriving at the
lot, they found the cook tent up and the breakfast cooking.

"Why, how did you ever get this tent here and up so quickly?"
asked Phil after they had greeted their old friend of the
cook tent.

"Came in on the flying squadron.  This is a railroad show now,
you know," answered the head steward, after greeting the boys.

"Flying squadron?  What's that?" demanded Teddy, interested
at once.

"The flying squadron is the train that goes out first.
It carries the cook tent and other things that will be
needed first.  We didn't have that last year.  You'll find a lot
of new things, and some that you won't like as well as you did
when we had the old road show.  What's your act this year?"

"Same as last."

"Elephant?"

"Yes, and the rings.  My friend Teddy I expect will ride the
educated mule again."

While they were talking the steward was preparing a pot of
steaming coffee for them, which he soon handed over to the lads
with a plate of wafers, of which they disposed in short order.

It was broad daylight by this time, and the boys decided to go
out and watch the erection of the tents.  It was all new and full
of interest to them.  As they caught the odor of trampled grass
and the smell of the canvas their old enthusiasm came back to
them with added force.

"It's great to be a circus man, isn't it, Phil?" breathed Teddy.

"It is unless one is getting into trouble all the time, the way
you do.  I expect that, some of these days, you'll get something
you don't want."

"What?"

"Oh, I don't know.  But I am sure it will be something
quite serious."

"You better look out for yourself," growled Teddy.  "I'll take
care of myself."

"Yes; the way you did last night," retorted Phil, with a
hearty laugh.  "Come on, now; let's not quarrel.  I want to find
some of our old friends.  Isn't that Mr. Miaco over there by the
dressing tent?"

"Sure."

Both lads ran toward their old friend, the head clown, with
outstretched hands, and Mr. Miaco, seeing them coming, hastened
forward to greet them.

"Well, well, boys!  How are you?"

"Oh, we're fine," glowed Phil.  "And we are glad to be back
again, let me tell you."

"No more so than your old friends are to have you back.
Same old act?"

"Yes."

"What have you boys been doing this winter?"

"Studying and exercising."

"Yes; I knew, from your condition, that you have been keeping up
your work.  Got anything new?"

"Not much.  Trapeze."

"Good!  I'll bet you will be in some of the flying-bar acts
before the season is over.  We have a lot of swell performers
this season."

"So I have heard.  Who are some of them?"

"Well, there's the Flying Four."

"Who are they?" questioned Teddy.

"Trapeze performers.  They're great--the best in the business.
And then there's The Limit."

"Talk United States," demanded Teddy.  "The Limit?  Whoever heard
of that?"

"In other words, the Dip of Death."

Teddy shook his head helplessly.

"That is the somersaulting automobile.  A pretty young woman
rides in it, and some fine day she won't.  I never did like those
freak acts.  But the public does," sighed the old circus man.
"The really difficult feats, that require years of practice,
patrons don't seem to give a rap for.  But let somebody do a
stunt in which he is in danger of suddenly ending his life, then
you'll see the people howl with delight.  I sometimes think they
would be half tickled to death to see some of us break our necks.
There's a friend of yours, Phil."

"Who?"

"Emperor, the old elephant that you rode last year.  They are
taking him to the menagerie tent."

"Whistle to him, Phil," suggested Teddy.

Phil uttered a low, peculiar whistle.

The big elephant's ears flapped.  The procession that he was
leading came to a sudden stop and Emperor trumpeted shrilly.

"He hasn't forgotten me," breathed Phil happily.  "Dear old
Emperor!"

"Pipe him up again," urged Teddy.

"No; I wouldn't dare.  He would be likely to break away from
Mr. Kennedy and might trample some of the people about here.
See, Mr. Kennedy is having his troubles as it is."

"Done any tumbling since you closed last fall?" questioned
Mr. Miaco.

"We have practiced a little.  I want to learn, if you will
teach me--"

"Why, you can tumble already, Phil."

"Yes; but I want to do something better--the springboard."

"They've got a leaping act this year."

"How?"

"Performers and clowns leap over a herd of elephants.
You've seen the act, haven't you?"

"Oh, yes; I know what it is.  I wish I were able to do it."

"You will be.  It is not difficult, only one has to have a
natural bent for it.  Now, your friend Teddy ought to make a
fine leaper."

"I am," interposed Teddy pompously.  "I always was."

"Yes; you're the whole show from your way of thinking," laughed
Mr. Miaco.  "I must go see if my trunk is placed.  See you
later, boys."

After leaving the clown, the lads strolled about the lot.  They
soon
discovered that the Sparling Shows was a big organization.  The
tents
had been very much enlarged and the canvas looked new and white.

In the menagerie tent the boys found many new cages, gorgeous in
red and gold, with a great variety of animals that had not been
in the show the previous summer.

Emperor's delight at seeing his little friend again was expressed
in loud trumpetings, and his sinuous trunk quickly found its way
into Phil Forrest's pocket in search of sweets.  And Emperor was
not disappointed.  In one coat pocket he found a liberal supply
of candy, while the other held a bag of peanuts, to all of which
the big elephant helped himself freely until no more was left.

"Have you got my trappings ready, Mr. Kennedy?" asked Phil
of the keeper.

"You'll find the stuff in fine shape.  The old man has had a new
bonnet made for Emperor and a new blanket.  He'll be right smart
when he enters the ring today.  Been over to the cook tent yet?"

"Yes; but not for breakfast.  We are going soon now.  We want to
see them raise the big top first."

When the boys had passed out into the open they observed the
big circus tent rising slowly from the ground where it had been
laid out, the various pieces laced together by nimble fingers.
Mr. Sparling was on the lot watching everything at the same time.
This was the first time the tent had been pitched, and, as has
been said before, most of the men were green at their work.
Yet, under the boisterous prodding of the boss canvasman,
the white city was going up rapidly and with some semblance
of system.

As soon as the dome of the big top left the ground the boys
crawled under and went inside.  Here all was excitement
and confusion.  Men were shouting their commands, above which
the voice of the boss canvasman rose distinctly.

The dome of the tent by this time was halfway up the long, green
center pole, while men were hurrying in with quarter poles on
their shoulders, and which they quickly stood on end and guided
into place in the bellying canvas.

The eyes of the Circus Boys sparkled with enthusiasm.

"I wish we were up there on the rings," breathed Teddy.

"We shall be soon, old fellow," answered Phil, patting him on
the shoulder.  "And for many days after this, I hope.  Hello, I
wonder what's wrong up there?"

Phil's quick glance had caught something up near the half-raised
dome that impressed him as not being right.

"Look out aloft!" he sang out warningly.

"The key rope's going.  Grab the other line!" bellowed the
boss canvasman.

"You fools!" roared Mr. Sparling from the opposite side
of the tent, as he quickly noted what was happening.  "Run for
your lives!  You'll have the whole outfit down on your heads!"

The men fled, letting go of ropes and poles, diving for places of
safety, many of them knowing what it meant to have that big tent
collapse and descend upon them.

The man who had held the key rope was the one who had been
at fault.  Some of the new men had called to him to give them
a hand on another line, and he, a new man himself, all forgetful
of the important task that had been assigned to him, dropped the
key rope, as it is called, turning to assist his associate.

Instantly the dome of the big top began to settle with a grating
noise as the huge iron ring in the peak began slipping down the
center pole.

The key rope coiled on the ground was running out and squirming
up into the air.  Only a single coil of it remained when Phil
suddenly darted forward.  With a bound, he threw himself upon the
rope, giving it a quick twist about his arm.

The instant Phil had fastened his grip upon the rope he shot up
into the air so quickly that the onlookers failed to catch the
meaning of his sudden flight.

One pair of eyes, however, saw and understood.  They belonged to
Mr. Sparling, the owner of the show.

"The boy will he killed!" he groaned.  "Let go!"



CHAPTER V

DOING A MAN'S WORK

For one brief instant Phil Forrest's head was giddy and his
breath fairly left his body from the speed with which he was
propelled upward on the key rope.

But the lad had not for a second lost his presence of mind.
Below him was some eight feet of the rope dangling in the air.

With a sudden movement that could only have been executed by one
with unusual strength and agility, Phil let the rope slip through
his hands just enough to slacken his speed.  Instantly he threw
himself around the center pole, twisting the rope around and
around it, each twist slackening his upward flight a little.
He knew that, were his head to strike the iron ring in the dome
at the speed he was traveling, he would undoubtedly be killed.
It was as much to prevent this as to save the tent that Phil took
the action he did, though his one real thought was to save his
employer's property.

Now the rapid upward shoot had dwindled to a slow, gradual
slipping of the rope as it moved up the center pole inch by inch.
But Phil's peril was even greater than before.  The moment that
heavy iron ring began pressing down on his head and shoulders
with the weight of the canvas behind it, there would be nothing
for him to do but to let go.

A forty-foot fall to the hard ground below seemed inevitable.
Yet he did not lose his presence of mind for an instant.

"Give him a hand!" yelled the boss canvasman.

"How?  How?" shouted the canvasmen.  "We can't reach him."

"Get a net under that boy, you blockheads!" thundered Mr.
Sparling,
rushing over from his station.  "Don't you see he's bound to
fall,
and if he does he'll break his neck?"

The boss canvasman ordered three of his men to get the trapeze
performers' big net that lay in a heap near the ring nearest the
dressing tent, for there were two rings now in the Great Sparling
Combined Shows.

They dragged it over as quickly as possible; then willing hands
grabbed it and stretched the heavy net out.  At Mr. Sparling's
direction the four corners of the net were manned and the
safety device raised from the ground, ready to catch the lad
should he fall.

"Now let go and drop!" roared Mr. Sparling.

They heard Phil laugh from his lofty perch.

"Jump, I say!"

"What, and let the tent down on you all?"

By this time the lad had curled his feet up over his head, and
they saw that he was bracing his feet against the iron ring,
literally holding the tent up with his own powerful muscles.
Of course, as a matter of fact, Phil was holding a very small
part of the weight of the tent, but as it was, the strain
was terrific.

Hanging head down, his face flushed until it seemed as if the
blood must burst through the skin, he hung there as calmly as if
he were not in imminent peril of his life.  Then, too, there was
the danger to those below him.  If the tent should collapse some
of them would be killed, for there were now few quarter poles in
place to break the fall of the heavy canvas.

"I say, down there!" he cried, finally managing to make himself
heard above the uproar.

"Are you going to drop?" shouted Mr. Sparling.

"No; do you want me to let the tent drop on you?  If you'll all
get out there'll be fewer hurt in case I have to let go."

"That boy!" groaned the showman.

"Toss me a line and be quick about it," called Phil shrilly.

"What can you do with a line?" demanded the showman, now more
excited than he had ever been in his life.

"Toss it!"

"Give him a line!"

"A strong one," warned Phil, his voice not nearly as far reaching
as it had been.

"A line!" bellowed Mr. Sparling.  "He knows what he wants it for,
and he's got more sense than the whole bunch of us."

A coil of rope shot up.  But it missed Phil by about six feet.

Another one was forthcoming almost instantly.  This time,
however, Mr. Sparling snatched it from the hands of the showman
who had made the wild cast.

"Idiot!" he roared, pushing the man aside.

Once more the coil sailed up, unrolling as it went.  This time
Phil grasped it with his free hand, which he had liberated for
the purpose.

"Now, be careful," warned Mr. Sparling.  "I don't know what you
think you're going to do; but whatever you start you're sure
to finish."

To this Phil made no reply.  He was getting too weak to talk, and
his tired body trembled.

In the end of the key rope a big loop had been formed, this
after the tent was up, was slipped over a cleat to prevent a
possibility of the rope slipping its fastenings and letting the
tent down.

Phil had discovered the loop when it finally slipped up so his
one hand was pressed against the knot.

Every second the weight on his feet--on his whole body, in fact,
was getting heavier.

"If I can hold on a minute longer, I'll make it!" he muttered,
his breath coming in short, quick gasps.

What he was seeking to do was to get the rope they had tossed to
him, through the big loop.  In his effort to do so, the coil
slipped from his hands, knocking a canvasman down as it fell,
but the lad had held to the other end with a desperate grip.

Now he began working it through the loop inch by inch.  It was
a slow process, but he was succeeding even better than he
had hoped.

Mr. Sparling now saw what Phil's purpose was.  About the same
time the others down there made the same discovery.

They set up a cheer of approval.

"Wait!" commanded the owner of the show.  "The lad isn't out of
the woods yet.  You men on the net look lively there.  If you
don't catch him should he fall, you take my word for it, it'll go
mighty hard with you."

"We'll catch him."

"You'd better, if you know what's good for you.  Goodness, but
he's got the strength and the grit!  I never saw anything like it
in all my circus experience."

They could not help him.  There was no way by which any of them
could reach Phil, and all they could do was to stand by and do
the best they could at breaking his fall should he be forced to
let go, as it seemed that he must do soon.

Nearer and nearer crept the line toward the ground, but it was
yet far above their heads.  It was moving faster, however, as
Phil got more weight of rope through the loop, thus requiring
less effort on his part to send it along on its journey.

"Side pole!  Side pole!" shouted the boy, barely making himself
heard above the shouts below.

At first they did not catch the meaning of his words.
Mr. Sparling, of course, was the first to do so.

"That's it!  Oh, you idiots!  You wooden Indians!  You thick
heads!
Get a side pole, don't you understand?" and the owner made a dive
at the nearest man to him, whereat the fellow quickly
side-stepped
and started off on a run for the pole for which Phil had asked.
But, even then, some of the hands did not understand what he
could want of a side pole.

The instant it was brought Mr. Sparling snatched it from the
hands of the tentman.  Raising the pole, assisted by the boss
canvasman, he was able to reach the loop.  The iron spike in the
end of the pole was thrust through the loop, and by exerting
considerable pressure they were able to force the loop slowly
toward the ground.

"You'll have to hurry!  I can't hang on much longer," cried
Phil weakly.

"We'll hurry, my lad.  It won't be half a minute now," encouraged
Mr. Sparling.  "Stand by here you blockheads, ready to fall on
that rope the minute it gets within reach.  Three of you grab
hold of the coil end and pay it out gradually.  Be careful.
Watch your business."

Three men sprang to do his bidding.

"Here comes the loop!"

Ready hands grasped the dangling rope.

The two strands were quickly carried together and the weight of a
dozen men thrown on them, instantly relieving the strain on Phil
Forrest's body.

Phil had saved the big top, and perhaps a few lives at the
same time.  Now a sudden dizziness seemed to have overtaken him.
Everything appeared to be whirling about him, the big top
spinning like a giant top before his eyes.

"Slide down the rope!" commanded Mr. Sparling.

The lad slowly unwound the rope from his arm and feebly motioned
to them that they were to walk around the pole with their end so
they might hoist the iron ring to the splice of the center pole.

"Never mind anything but yourself!" ordered Mr. Sparling.
"We'll attend to this mix-up ourselves."

Very cautiously and deliberately, more from force of habit
than otherwise, the lad had let his feet down, and with them
was groping for the rope.

"Swing the line between his legs!" roared the owner.  "Going to
let him stay up there all day?"

"That's what we're trying to do," answered a tentman.

"Yes, I see you trying.  That's the trouble with you fellows.
You always think you're trying, and if you are, you never
accomplish anything.  Got, it, Phil?"

"Y--ye--yes."

Twisting his legs about the rope the boy next took a weak grip on
it with both hands, then started slowly to descend.  This he knew
how to do, so the feat was attended with no difficulty other than
the strength required, and of which he had none to spare just at
the present moment.

"Look out!" he called.  He thought he had shouted it in a
loud tone.  As a matter of fact no sound issued from his lips.

But Mr. Sparling whose eyes had been fixed upon the boy,
saw and understood.

"He's falling.  Catch him!"

Phil shot downward head first.  Yet with the instinct of the
showman he curled his head up ever so little as he half
consciously felt himself going.



CHAPTER VI

THE SHOWMAN'S REWARD

Phil struck the net with a violent slap that was heard outside
the big top, though those without did not understand the meaning
of it, nor did they give it heed.

Mr. Sparling was the first to reach him.  The lad had landed on
his shoulders and then struck flat on his back, the proper way
to fall into a net.  Perhaps it was instinct that told him what
to do.

The lad was unconscious when the showman lifted him tenderly from
the net and laid him out on the ground.

"Up with that peak!" commanded Mr. Sparling.  "Get some water
here,
and don't crowd around him!  Give the boy air!  Tucker, you hike
for the surgeon."

A shove started Teddy for the surgeon.  In the meantime
Mr. Sparling was working over Phil, seeking to bring him back
to consciousness, which he finally succeeded in doing before
the surgeon arrived.

"Did I fall?" asked Phil, suddenly opening his eyes.

"A high dive," nodded Mr. Sparling.

Phil cast his eyes up to the dome where he saw the canvas
drawing taut.  He knew that he had succeeded and he
smiled contentedly.

By the time the surgeon arrived the boy was on his feet.

"How do you feel?"

"I'm a little sore, Mr. Sparling.  But I guess I'll be fit in a
few minutes."

"Able to walk over to my tent?  If not, I'll have some of the
fellows carry you."

"Oh, no; I can walk if I can get my legs started moving.
They don't seem to be working the way they should this morning,"
laughed the lad.  "My, that tent weighs something doesn't it?"

"It does," agreed the showman.

Just then the surgeon arrived.  After a brief examination he
announced that Phil was not injured, unless, perhaps, he might
have injured himself internally by subjecting himself to the
great strain of holding up the tent.

"I think some breakfast will put me right again," decided
the lad.

"Haven't you had your breakfast yet?" demanded Mr. Sparling.

"No; I guess I've been too busy."

"Come with me, then.  I haven't had mine either," said
the showman.

Linking his arm within that of the Circus Boy, Mr. Sparling
walked from the tent, not speaking again until they had reached
the manager's private tent.  This was a larger and much more
commodious affair than it had been last year.

He placed Phil in a folding easy chair, and sat down to his desk
where he began writing.

After finishing, Mr. Sparling looked up.

"Phil," he said in a more kindly tone than the lad had ever
before heard him use, "I was under a deep obligation to you
last season.  I'm under a greater one now."

"I wish you wouldn't speak of it, sir.  What I have done is
purely in the line of duty.  It's a fellow's business to be
looking out for his employer's interests.  That's what I have
always tried to do."

"Not only tried, but have," corrected Mr. Sparling.  "That's an
old-fashioned idea of yours.  It's a pity young men don't feel
more that way, these days.  But that wasn't what I wanted to say.
As a little expression of how much I appreciate your interest,
as well as the actual money loss you have saved me, I want to
make you a little present."

"Oh, no no," protested Phil.

"Here is a check which I have made out for a hundred dollars.
That will give you a little start on the season.  But it isn't
all that I am going to do for you--"

"Please, Mr. Sparling.  Believe me I do appreciate your kindness,
but I mustn't take the check.  I couldn't take the check."

"Why not?"

"Because I haven't earned it."

"Haven't earned it?  He hasn't earned it!"

"No, sir."

The showman threw his hands above his head in a hopeless sort of
a way.

"I should not feel that I was doing right.  I want to be
independent, Mr. Sparling.  I have plenty of money.  I have
not spent more than half of what I earned last summer.
This season I hope to lay by a whole lot, so that I shall be
quite independent."

"And so you shall, so you shall, my boy," Sparling exclaimed,
rising and smiting Phil good naturedly with the flat of his hand.

Instead of tearing up the check, however, Mr. Sparling put it in
an envelope which he directed and stamped, then thrust in his
coat pocket.

"I--I hope you understand--hope you do not feel offended,"
said Phil hesitatingly.  "I should not like to have you
misunderstand me."

"Not a bit of it, my lad.  I can't say that I have any higher
opinion of you because of your decision, but--"

Phil glanced up quickly.

"I already have as high an opinion of you as it is possible for
me to have for any human being, and--"

"Thank you.  You'll make me have a swelled head if you keep on
that way," laughed Phil.

"No danger.  You would have had one long ago, if that was
your makeup.  Have you seen Mrs. Sparling yet?"

"No, and I should like to.  May I call on her in your car?"

"Not only may, but she has commissioned me to ask you to.
I think we had better be moving over to the cook tent, now,
if we wish any breakfast.  I expect the hungry roustabouts
have about cleaned the place out by this time."

They soon arrived at the cook tent.  Here Phil left Mr. Sparling
while he passed about among the tables, greeting such of his old
acquaintances as he had not yet seen that morning.  He was
introduced to many of the new ones, all of whom had heard pretty
much everything about Phil's past achievements before he reached
their tables.  The people of a circus are much like a big family,
and everyone knows, or thinks he knows, the whole family history
of his associates.

Even Phil's plucky work in the big top, less than an hour before,
had already traveled to the cook tent, and many curious glances
were directed to the slim, modest, boy as he passed among his
friends quietly, giving them his greetings.

Teddy, on the other hand, was not saying a word.  He was
busy eating.

"How's your appetite this morning, Teddy?" questioned Phil,
sinking down on the bench beside his companion.

"Pretty fair," answered Teddy in a muffled voice.  "I began at
the top--"

"Top of what?"

"Top of the bill of fare.  I've cleaned up everything halfway
down the list, and I'm going through the whole bill, even if I
have to get up and shake myself down like the miller does a bag
of meal."

"Be careful, old chap.  Remember you and I have to begin our real
work today.  We shall want to be in the best of shape for our
ring act.  You won't, if you fill up as you are doing now,"
warned Phil.

"Not going to work today."

"What's that?"

"No flying rings today."

"I don't understand."

"No flying rings, I said.  Mr. Sparling isn't going to put on our
act today."

"How do you know?" asked Phil in some surprise.

"Heard him say so."

"When?"

"Just now."

"Why, I came in with him myself less than ten minutes ago--"

"I know.  He stopped right in front of my table here to speak to
the ringmaster.  Heard him say you were not to be allowed to go
on till tomorrow.  We don't have to go in the parade today if we
don't want to, either.  But you are to ride Emperor in the
Grand Entry, and I'm to do my stunt on the educated mule."

"Pshaw, I can work today as well as I ever could," said Phil in a
disappointed tone.  "And I'm going on, too, unless Mr. Sparling
gives me distinct orders to the contrary."

Phil got the orders before he had finished his breakfast.

"Believe me, Phil, I know best," said Mr. Sparling, noting the
lad's disappointment.  "You have had a pretty severe strain this
morning, and to go on now with the excitement of the first day
added to that, I fear might be too much for you.  It might lay
you up for some weeks, and we cannot afford to have that happen,
you know.  I need you altogether too much for that."

"Very well, sir; it shall be as you wish.  I suppose I may go on
in the Grand Entry as usual?"

"Oh, yes, if you wish."

"I do."

"Very well; then I'll let Mr. Kennedy know.  You had better lie
down and rest while the parade is out."

"Thank you; I hardly think that will be necessary.  I feel fit
enough for work right now."

"Such is youth and enthusiasm," mused the showman, passing on out
of the cook tent, once more to go over his arrangements, for
there were many details to be looked after on this the first day
of the show's season on the road.

Phil called on Mrs. Sparling after breakfast, receiving from the
showman's wife a most hospitable welcome.  She asked him all
about how he had spent the winter, and seemed particularly
interested in Mrs. Cahill, who was now the legal guardian of
both the boys.  Mrs. Sparling already had a letter in her pocket,
with the check for one hundred dollars which the showman had
drawn for Phil.  It was going to Mrs. Cahill to be deposited to
the lad's credit, but he would know nothing of this until the
close of the season.  After he had gone home he would find
himself a hundred dollars richer than he thought.

His call finished, Phil went out and rejoined Teddy.  Together
they
started back toward the dressing tent to set their trunks in
order
and get out such of their costumes as they would need that
afternoon and evening.  Then again, the dressing tent was really
the most attractive part of the show to all the performers.  It
was
here that they talked of their work and life, occasionally
practiced
new acts of a minor character, and indulged in pranks like a lot
of
schoolboys at recess time.

As they were passing down along the outside of the big top,
Phil noticed several laborers belonging to the show sitting
against the side wall sunning themselves.  He observed that one
of the men was eyeing Teddy and himself with rather more than
ordinary interest.

Phil did not give it a second thought, however, until suddenly
Teddy gave his arm a violent pinch.

"What is it?"

"See those fellows sitting there?"

"Yes.  What of it?"

"One of them is the fellow who ducked me under the water tank
back at Germantown."

"You don't say?  Which one?"

"Fellow with the red hair.  I heard them call him Larry as I
passed, or I might not have noticed him particularly.  His hair
is redder than Rod Palmer's.  I should think it would set him
on fire."

"It certainly would seem so."

"Mister Larry has got something coming to him good and proper,
and he's going to get it, you take my word for that."

Phil laughed good naturedly.

"Please, now, Teddy, forget it.  Don't go and get into any
more mix-ups.  You'll be sending yourself back home first thing
you know.  Then it will be a difficult matter to get into any
other show if you are sent away from this one in disgrace."

"Don't you worry about me.  I'll take care of myself.  I always
do, don't I?"

"I'm afraid I can't agree to that," laughed Phil.  "I should say
that quite the contrary is the case."

Teddy fell suddenly silent as they walked on in the bright
morning light, drinking in the balmy air in long-drawn breaths.
Entering the paddock they turned sharply to the left and pushed
their way through the canvas curtains into the dressing tent.

"Hurrah for the Circus Boys," shouted someone.  "Hello Samson,
are you the strong-armed man that held the tent up by your feet?"

"Strong-footed man, you mean," suggested another.  "A
strong-armed
man uses his arms not his feet."

"Come over here and show yourself," shouted another voice.

Phil walked over and stood smilingly before them.  Nothing seemed
to disturb his persistent good nature.

"Huh, not so much!  I guess they stretched that yarn," grunted
a new performer.

"I guess not," interposed Mr. Miaco.  "I happened to see that
stunt pulled off myself.  It was the biggest thing I ever saw
a man--let alone a boy--get away with."  Then Mr. Miaco went over
the scene with great detail, while Phil stole away to his own
corner, where he busied himself bending over his trunk to hide
his blushes.

But Teddy felt no such emotion.  Almost as soon as he entered the
dressing tent he began searching about for something.  This he
soon found.  It was a pail, but he appeared to be in a hurry.
Picking up the pail he ran with it to the water barrel, that
always stands in the dressing tent, filled the pail and skulked
out as if he did not desire to attract attention.

Once outside the dressing tent Teddy ran at full speed across the
paddock and out into the big top.  A few men were working here
putting up apparatus for the performers.  They gave no heed to
the boy with the pail of water.

Teddy ran his eye along the inside of the tent, nodded and went
on to the middle section where he turned, climbing the steps to
the upper row.

Arriving there he cautiously peered out over the top of the
side wall.  What he saw evidently was not to his liking, for once
more he picked up the pail of water and ran lightly along the top
seat toward the menagerie tent.

All at once he paused, put down his pail and peered out over the
side wall again.  Nodding with satisfaction he picked up the
pail, lifted it to the top of the side wall, once more looked out
measuring the distance well, then suddenly turned the pail bottom
side up.

In his course through the big top Teddy had gathered up several
handfuls of sawdust and dirt which he had stirred well into the
water as he ran, making a pasty mess of it.

It was this mixture that he had now poured out over the
side wall.  Teddy waited only an instant to observe the effect
of the deluge that he had turned on.  Then he fled down the
rattling board seats.

Outside a sudden roar broke the stillness.  No sooner had he
reached the bottom of the seats than several men raised up the
side wall and came tumbling in, yelling like Comanche Indians.
Teddy cast one frightened look at them, then ran like
all possessed.  What he had seen was a red-haired man in the
lead, dripping wet with hair and clothes plastered with mud
and sawdust.  Larry was after the lad in full cry.



CHAPTER VII

TRYING THE CULPRIT

"Stop him!" howled Larry, as he, followed by half a dozen
blue-shirted fellows, bolted into the arena in pursuit of the lad
who had emptied the pail of muddy water over him.

Teddy, still clinging to the pail, was sprinting down the
concourse as if his very life depended upon it.  A canvasman,
hearing Larry's call, and suspecting the boy was wanted for
something quite serious, rushed out, heading Teddy off.
It looked as if the lad were to be captured right here.

But Teddy Tucker was not yet at the end of his resources.  He ran
straight on as if he had not observed the canvasman.  Just as he
reached the man, and the latter's hands were stretched out to
intercept him, Teddy hurled the pail full in the fellow's face.
Then the lad darted to one side and fled toward the paddock.

The canvasman had joined the procession by this time.  Into the
dressing tent burst the boy, followed by Larry, the others having
brought up sharply just before reaching the dressing room,
knowing full well that they had no business there and that
their presence would be quickly and effectively resented.
Larry, consumed with rage, did not stop to think about this,
so he dashed on blindly to his fate.

At first the circus performers in the dressing tent could not
imagine what was going on.  Clotheslines came down, properties
were upset and in a moment the tent was in confusion.

"Stop that!" bellowed an irate performer.

Larry gave no heed to the command, and Teddy was in too big a
hurry to stop to explain.

Suddenly Phil Forrest, realizing that his little companion was in
danger, gave a leap.  He landed on Larry's back, pinioning the
fellow's arms to his sides.

"You stop that now!  You let him alone!" commanded Phil.

Before the canvasman could make an effort to free himself,
Mr. Miaco, the head clown, took a hand in the proceedings.
Throwing Phil from the tentman, Miaco jerked Larry about,
and demanded to know what he meant by intruding on the privacy
of the dressing tent in that manner.

"I want that kid," he growled.

"Put him out!" howled a voice.

"What do you want him for?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Whom shall we have for judge?"

"Oscar, the midget!"

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

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

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

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

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

Oscar was at a loss to know how to answer.

"Duck him," suggested one.

This was an inspiration to Oscar.  He smiled broadly.

"Yah, dat iss."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I've got you!"

The voice was almost at his ear.

Phil halted with unexpected suddenness and dropped on all fours.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was two to one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VIII

PHIL MAKES A NEW FRIEND

"Tweetle!  Tweetle!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No.  Who were they?"

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

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

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

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

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

Teddy paused reflectively.

"Then what?"

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

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

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

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

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

"The regular acts that I did last year."

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

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

"What are they?"

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

"And the other?"

"To ride bareback."

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

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

"Here, too," agreed Teddy.

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

"You needn't."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, maybe."

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

"I should think not."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil crept a little nearer.

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

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

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

"Turn!  Turn!" cried Phil sharply.

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

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



CHAPTER IX

THE MULE DISTINGUISHES HIMSELF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Save yourself!" gasped the girl.

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

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

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

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

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

"Let me help you."

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

Phil smiled and straightened, despite the pain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dimples nodded her understanding.

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

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

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

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

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

Then the mule was off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Get out of here!" yelled the ringmaster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Come out of that!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER X

HIS FIRST BAREBACK LESSON

"Where's that boy?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Where's Teddy?"

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

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

"Yes; what is it?"

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

"Who is it?"

"Mrs. Robinson."

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

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

"Oh."


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

Dimples glanced down with a smile.

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

Phil nodded.

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

"I did," and Dimples laughed merrily.

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

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

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

"The Ringlings."

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

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

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

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

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

"Have you ever tried it?"

"No."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Your boy?"

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

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

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

"Is it possible?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Do I?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What do you want me to do first?"

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

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

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

"Yes--oh, here I go!"

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

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

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

"I'm not so sure of that."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XI

SUMMONED BEFORE THE MANAGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Have any trouble with any of the men?"

"Yes, sir."

"Who?"

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

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

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

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

"Tell me what you did."

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

"Knock them down?"

"I--I guess so."

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

"I may have heard something of the sort."

"Larry has quite a reputation as a fighter."

"Yes, sir."

"And you knocked him out?"

"Something like that," answered Phil meekly.

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

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

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

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

Mr. Sparling nodded his head.

"How did you hit him?"

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

"Well, what next?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is that all, sir?" questioned Larry.

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

"Yes."

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

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

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

"What for?"

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

"What do you mean?"

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

Mr. Sparling eyed the lad for a moment.

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

"I understand, sir."

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

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

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

"I have done that already."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Taking 'em now."

"From Mr. Miaco?"

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

"How did you make out?"

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

Phil laughed heartily.

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

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

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

"What?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why?"

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

Phil nodded and smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What kind of car is that?"

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

"Good!  Come along Teddy."

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

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

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

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

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

"Who's afraid?" growled Teddy.

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

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

"I guess it is," grinned Phil.

"He might take it seriously?"

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

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



CHAPTER XII

THE HUMAN FOOTBALL

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

Teddy Tucker shook his head.

"Why don't you?"

"Nobody ever asked me."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The human football?" questioned Teddy dubiously.

"Yes."

"What's that?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You would!" shouted the performers in chorus.

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

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

"Well, what do you think, fellows?"

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

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

"Well, I'll think about it."

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

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

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

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

"Mr. Sparling," called Teddy.

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

"Well, what's wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong, sir."

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes, sir."

Mr. Sparling laughed heartily.

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

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

"What kind of clown?"

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

"A human football?"

"Yes, sir."

"What put that idea into your head?"

"Some of the fellows suggested it."

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

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

"I know, but who suggested it first?"

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

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

"May I?"

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

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

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

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

"Thank you."

Teddy was off for the dressing room on a run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Blowing you up--"

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

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

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

The performers howled at this sally.

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

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

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

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

"Try it and see," suggested a voice.

"All right."

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

The performers howled with delight.

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

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

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

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

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

"We'll help you."

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

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

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

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

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

"Teddy?  You don't mean it?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Quit it!" he howled.

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

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

"How do you like being a clown?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XIII

DUCKED BY AN ELEPHANT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What about it?  You are both sights!"

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

"I'll hear how it happened."

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

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

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

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

"I couldn't say as to that."

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

Mr. Sparling turned a cold eye upon Tucker.

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

Teddy subsided for the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Sparling leaned back and laughed heartily.

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

"Yes, sir."

The lads delivered the message.

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

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

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

The men were speechless for the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes, and he seems to be in a great hurry about something.
I'll bet Mr. Sparling has discharged him.  I'm sorry.  I hate
to see anybody lose his job, but I guess Red deserves it if
anybody does.  He's one of the fellows that attacked us
last night.  I haven't the least doubt about that."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Emperor!  Down!" he shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil shook his head.

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

"That's it!"

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

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



CHAPTER XIV

IN DIRE PERIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How?"

"He is ugly."

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

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

"Going to send him out in the parade?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Have you told Mr. Sparling?"

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

"No; I suppose not."

"Where are you going now, Phil?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I thought we were West now?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What's happening?"

"They have broken the line!"

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

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

"There!  They're coming this way."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil took in her peril in one swift glance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then saw that she was herself again.

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

"Yes.  You're a good boy."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XV

EMPEROR TO THE RESCUE

"Get back!" shouted the boy.

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

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

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

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

"Emperor!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Left, Emperor!"

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

Phil uttered a little cry of exultation.

"Now, if I can head them off!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Halt!"

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

"Stations!"

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

"Back up!  Back, Jupiter!"

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

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

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

The elephant did so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Did you know I had them?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"There she is now."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Perhaps he may want me," hesitated Phil.

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

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

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

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

Dimples laughed heartily.

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XVI

AN UNEXPECTED PROMOTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is that so?  Who?"

"Monsieur Liebman."

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

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

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

He made a place for Phil beside him.

"Sit down."

"Thank you."

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

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

"Yes."

"How?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes; why?"

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

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

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

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

"It may sound foolish, but--"

"But what?"

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

"That's right."

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

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

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

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

The showman uttered a long, low whistle.

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

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

Mr. Sparling nodded reflectively.

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

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

"Yes?"

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

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

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

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

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

Phil glanced up inquiringly.

"How would you like to come out front?"

"You mean?"

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

"But, Mr. Sparling--"

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

"In what capacity?"

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

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

"But what?"

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

The showman laughed.

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

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

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

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

"What?"

"Rather, I was going to suggest--"

"Well, out with it!"

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

"You, a bareback rider?"

Phil nodded.

"But you can't ride!"

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

"Alone?"

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

The manager was regarding him thoughtfully.

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

"Yes."

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

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

Mr. Sparling nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Dimples shook a small, brown fist at him.

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

Phil blushed furiously.

"Shall I ride again?" he asked.

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

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

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

Phil looked crestfallen.

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

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

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

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

The showman's eyes were upon it instantly.

"What have you there?" he demanded.

"Feather," answered Teddy thickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The leaping act?"

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

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

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

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

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

"May I?"

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



CHAPTER XVII

THE CIRCUS BOYS WIN NEW LAURELS

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

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

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

Little Dimples ran out at about the same time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Tweetle!  Tweetle!" sang the whistle.

Crash!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The audience was laughing and cheering at the same time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Such grit, Such grit!" he muttered.

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

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

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

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

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

Play they did.

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

Tweetle!  Tweetle!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It was splendid, splendid."

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

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



CHAPTER XVIII

DOING A DOUBLE SOMERSAULT

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

With them proudly marched Teddy Tucker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Were you ever in the ring?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes; three," nodded Phil.

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

Phil looked rather disappointed.

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes?"

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

"Plenty," agreed Phil.

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

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

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

"Teddy?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Sparling shook his head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XIX

MAROONED IN A FREIGHT CAR

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

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

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

Red pushed his way through the crowd and disappeared down an
alleyway, the policeman to whom the boy had appealed making no
effort to catch the man.

"What kind of a policeman are you, anyway?" cried Phil
in disgust.  "That fellow is a crook, and we have been on the
lookout for him for the last four weeks."

"What's he done?"

"Done?  Tried to poison one of the elephants, and a lot of
other things."

"The kid's crazy or else he belongs to the circus," laughed
a bystander.

Phil Forrest did not hear the speaker, however, for the boy had
dashed through the crowd and bounded into the alley where he had
caught a glimpse of a head of red hair a moment before.

But Larry was nowhere in sight.  He had disappeared utterly.

"I was right," decided Phil, after going the length of the alley
and back.  "He's been following this show right along, and
before he gets through he'll put us out of business if we don't
look sharp."

Considerable damage already had been done.  Horses and other
animals fell ill, in some instances with every evidence of
poisoning; guy ropes were cut, and the cars had been tampered
with in the railroad yards.

All this was beginning to get on the nerves of the owner of
the show, as well as on those of some of his people who knew
about it.  Things had come to a point where it was necessary
to place more men on guard about the lot to protect the
show's property.

At each stand of late efforts had been made to get the police to
keep an eye open for one Red Larry, but police officials do not,
as a rule, give very serious heed to the complaints of a circus,
especially unless the entire department has been pretty well
supplied with tickets.  Mr. Sparling was a showman who did not
give away many tickets unless there were some very good reason
for so doing.

Phil, in the meantime, had been at work in an effort to
satisfy his own belief that Larry was responsible for their
numerous troubles.  Yet up to this moment the lad had not caught
sight of Red; and now he had lost the scoundrel through the
laxity of a policeman.

There was no use "crying over spilled milk," as Phil
told himself.

The lad spent the next hour in tramping over the town where the
circus was to show that day.  He sought everywhere for Red,
but not a sign of the fellow was to be found.

As soon as the parade was over Phil hastened back to the lot to
acquaint Mr. Sparling with what he suspected.

"Do you know," said Phil, "I believe that fellow and his
companion are riding on one of our trains every night?"

"What?" exclaimed the showman.

"You'll find I'm right when the truth is known.  Then there's
something else.  There have been a lot of complaints about
sneak thieves in the towns we have visited since Red left us.
You can't tell.  There may be some connection between these
robberies and his following the show.  I'm going to get Larry
before I get through with this chase."

"Be careful, Phil.  He is a bad man.  You know what to expect
from him if he catches you again."

"I am not afraid.  I'll take care of myself if I see him coming.
The trouble is that Red doesn't go after a fellow that way."

Phil went on in his three acts as usual that afternoon,
after having spent an hour at the front door taking tickets,
to which task he had assigned himself soon after his talk with
Mr. Sparling.

It was instructive; it gave the boy a chance to see the people
and to get a new view of human nature.  If there is one place in
the world where all phases of human nature are to be found,
that place is the front door of a circus.

The Circus Boys, by this time, had both fitted into their new
acts as if they had been doing them for years--Phil doing the
bareback riding and Teddy tumbling in the leaping act, both lads
gaining the confidence and esteem more and more every day of
their fellow performers and the owner of the show.

That night, after the performance was ended, Phil stood around
for a time, watching the men at work pulling down the tent.
He had another motive, too.  He had thought that perchance he
might see something of the man he was in search of, for no better
time could be chosen to do damage to circus property than when
the canvas was being struck.

Then everyone was too busy to pay any attention to anyone else.
Teddy had gone on to pay his usual evening visit to the
accommodation car and at the same time make miserable the
existence of the worthy who presided over that particular car.

Phil waited until nearly twelve o'clock; then, deciding that it
would be useless to remain there longer, turned his footsteps
toward the railroad yards, for he was tired and wanted to get to
bed as soon as possible.

He found the way readily, having been over to the car once during
the morning while out looking for Red Larry.  The night was very
dark, however, and the yards, at the end from which he approached
them, were enshrouded in deep shadows.

On down the tracks Phil could see the smoking torches where the
men were at work running the heavy cages and canvas wagons up on
the flat cars.  Men were shouting and yelling, the usual
accompaniment to this proceeding, while crowds of curious
villagers were massed about the sides of the yard at that point,
watching the operations.

"That's the way I used to sit up and watch the circus get out
of town," mused Phil, grinning broadly, as he began hunting for
the sleeper where his berth was.

All at once the lights seemed to disappear suddenly from before
his eyes.  Phil felt himself slowly settling to the ground.
He tried to cry out, but could not utter a sound.

Then the lad understood that he was being grasped in a
vise-like grip.  That was the last he knew.

When Phil finally awakened he was still in deep,
impenetrable darkness.  The train was moving rapidly,
but there seemed to the boy to be something strange and
unusual in his surroundings.  His berth felt hard and unnatural.
For a time he lay still with closed eyes, trying to recall what
had happened.  There was a blank somewhere, but he could not
find it.

"Funny!  This doesn't seem like No. 11.  If it is, we must be
going over a pretty rough stretch of road."

He put out both hands cautiously and groped about him.
Phil uttered an exclamation of surprise.

"Good gracious, I'm on the floor.  I must have fallen out of
bed."

Then he realized that this could not be the case, because there
was a carpet on the floor of No. 11.

This was a hard, rough floor on which he was lying, and the air
was close, very different from that in the well-kept sleeping car
in which he traveled nightly from stand to stand.

In an effort to get to his feet the lad fell back heavily.
His head was swimming dizzily, and how it did ache!

"I wonder what has happened?" Forrest thought out loud.  "Maybe I
was struck by a train.  No; that couldn't be the case, or I
should not be here.  But where am I?  I might be in one of
the show cars, but I don't believe there is an empty car on
the train."

As soon as Phil felt himself able to sit up he searched
through his pockets until he found his box of matches, which he
always carried now, as one could not tell at what minute they
might be needed.

Striking a light, he glanced quickly about him; then the match
went out.

"I'm in a freight car," he gasped.  "But where, where?"

There was no answer to this puzzling question.  Phil struggled to
his feet, and, groping his way to the door, began tugging at it
to get it open.  The door refused to budge.

"Locked!  It's locked on the outside!  What shall I do?
What shall I do?" he cried.

Phil sat down weak and dizzy.  There was nothing, so far as
he could see, that could be done to liberate himself from
his imprisonment.  Chancing to put his hand to his head,
he discovered a lump there as large as a goose egg.

"I know--let me think--something--somebody must have hit me an
awful crack.  Now I remember--yes, I remember falling down in the
yard there just as if something had struck me.  Who could have
done such a cruel thing?"

Phil thought and thought, but the more he thought about it the
more perplexed did he become.  All at once he started up,
with a sudden realization that the train was slowing down.
He could hear the air brakes grating and grinding and squealing
against the car wheels below him, until finally the train came to
a dead stop.

"Now is my chance to make somebody hear," Phil cried, springing
up and groping for the door again.

He shouted at the top of his voice, then beat against the heavy
door with fists and feet, but not a sign could he get that anyone
heard him.

As a matter of fact, no one was near him at that moment.  The
long
freight train had stopped at a water tank far out in the country,
and the trainmen were at the extreme ends of the train.

In a few moments the train started with such a jerk that Forrest
was thrown off his feet.  He sprang up again, hoping that the
train might be going past a station there, and that someone might
hear him.  Then he began rattling at and kicking the door again.

It was all to no purpose.

Finally, in utter exhaustion, the lad sank to the floor, soon
falling into a deep sleep.  How long he slept he did not know
when at last he awakened.

"Why, the train has stopped," Forrest exclaimed, suddenly sitting
up and rubbing his eyes.  "Now I ought to make somebody hear me
because it's daylight.  I can see the light underneath the door.
I'll try it again."

He did try it, hammering at the door and shouting at intervals
during the long hours that followed.  Once more he lighted
matches and began examining his surroundings with more care.
Phil discovered a trap door in the roof, but it was closed.

"If only there were a rope hanging down, I'd be up there in no
time,"
he mused.  I wonder if I couldn't climb up and hang to the
braces.
I might reach it in that way.  I'm going to try it."

Deciding upon this, the Circus Boy, after no little effort,
succeeded in climbing up to one of the side braces in the car.
>From the plates long, narrow beams extended across the car, thus
supporting the roof.  Choosing two that led along near the trap,
Phil, after a few moments' rest, gripped one firmly in each hand
from the underside and began swinging himself along almost as if
he were traveling on a series of traveling rings, but with
infinitely more effort and discomfort.

His hands were aching frightfully, and he knew that he could hold
on but a few seconds longer.

"I've got to make it," he gasped, breathing hard.

At last he had reached the goal.  Phil released one hand and
quickly extended it to the trap door frame.

There was not a single projection there to support him,
nor to which he might cling.  His hand slipped away, suddenly
throwing his weight upon the hand grasping the roof timber.
The strain was too much.  Phil Forrest lost his grip and fell
heavily to the floor.

But this time he did not rise.  The lad lay still where he
had fallen.



CHAPTER XX

THE BARNYARD CIRCUS

When next Phil opened his eyes he was lying on the grass
on the shady side of a freight car with someone dashing water
in his face, while two or three others stood around gazing at
him curiously.

"Whe--where am I?" gasped the boy.

"I reckon you're lucky to be alive," laughed the man who had been
soaking him from a pail of water.  "Who be ye?"

"My name is Phil Forrest."

"How'd ye git in that car?  Stealing a ride, eh?  Reckon we'd
better hand ye over to the town constable.  It's again the law to
steal rides on freight trains."

"I've not stolen a ride.  It's no such thing," protested
Phil indignantly.

"Ho, ho, that's a rich one!  Paid yer fare, hey?  Riding like a
gentleman in a side-door Pullman.  Good, ain't it, fellows?"

"Friends, I assure you I am not a tramp.  Someone assaulted me
and locked me in that car last night.  I've got money in my
pocket to prove that I am not a tramp."

The lad thrust his hands into his trousers' pockets, then a blank
expression overspread his face.  Reaching to his vest to see if
his watch were there, he found that that, too, was missing.

"I've been robbed," he gasped.  "That's what it was.
Somebody robbed and threw me into this car last night.
See, I've got a lump on my head as big as a man's fist."

"He sure has," agreed one of the men.  "Somebody must a given him
an awful clout with a club."

"What town is this, please?"

"Mexico, Missouri."

"Mexico?"

"Yes."

"How far is it from St. Joseph?"

"St. Joseph?  Why, I reckon St. Joe is nigh onto a hundred and
fifty miles from here."

Phil groaned.

"A hundred and fifty miles and not a cent in my pocket!
What shall I do?  Can I send a telegram?  Where is the station?"

"Sunday.  Station closed."

"Sunday?  That's so."

Phil walked up and down between the tracks rather unsteadily,
curiously observed by the villagers.  They had heard his groans
in the freight car on the siding as they passed, and had quickly
liberated the lad.

"Do you think I could borrow enough money somewhere here to get
me to St. Joseph?  I would send it back by return mail."

The men laughed long and loud.

"What are you in such a hurry to get to St. Joe for?" demanded
the spokesman of the party.

"Because I want to get back to the circus."

"Circus?" they exclaimed in chorus.

"Yes.  I belong with the Sparling Combined Shows.  I was on my
way to my train, in the railroad yards, when I was knocked out
and thrown into that car."

"You with a circus?"  The men regarded him in a new light.

"Yes; why not?"

This caused them to laugh.  Plainly they did not believe him.
Nor did Phil care much whether they did or not.

"What time is it?" he asked.

"Church time."

He knew that, for he could hear the bells ringing off in the
village to the east of them.

"I'll tell you what, sirs; I have got to have some breakfast.
If any of you will be good enough to give me a meal I shall be
glad to do whatever you may wish to pay for it.  Then, if I
cannot find the telegraph operator, I shall have to stay over
until I do."

"What do you want the telegraph man for?"

"I want to wire the show for some money to get back with.
I've got to be there tomorrow, in time for the show.  I must do
it, if I have to run all the way."

The men were impressed by his story in spite of themselves;
yet they were loath to believe that this slender lad, much the
worse for wear, could belong to the organization he had named.

"What do you do in the show?"

"I perform on the flying rings, ride the elephant and ride
bareback in the ring.  What about it?  Will one of you put
me up?"

The villagers consulted for a moment; then the spokesman turned
to Phil.

"I reckon, if you be a circus feller, you kin show us some
tricks, eh?"

"Perform for you, you mean?"

"Yep."

"Well, I don't usually do anything like that on Sunday," answered
the Circus Boy reflectively.

"Eat on Sunday, don't you?"

"When I get a chance," Phil grinned.  "I guess your argument
wins.
I've got to eat and I have offered to earn my meal.  What do you
want me to do?"

"Kin you do a flip?"

Phil threw himself into a succession of cartwheels along the edge
of the railroad tracks, ending in a backward somersault.

"And you ride a hoss without any saddle, standing up on his
back--you do that, too?"

"Why, yes," laughed Phil, his face red from his exertion.

"Then, come along.  Come on, fellers!"

Phil thought, of course, that he was being taken to the man's
home just outside the village, where he would get his breakfast.
He was considerably surprised, therefore, when the men passed the
house that his acquaintance pointed out as belonging to himself,
and took their way on toward a collection of farm buildings some
distance further up the road.

"I wonder what they are going to do now?" marveled Phil.
"This surely doesn't look much like breakfast coming my way,
and I'm almost famished."

The leader of the party let down the bars of the farmyard,
conducting his guests around behind a large hay barn, into an
enclosed space, in the center of which stood a straw stack,
the stack and yard being surrounded by barns and sheds.

"Where are you fellows taking me?  Going to put me in the stable
with the live stock?" questioned Phil, laughingly.

"You want some breakfast, eh?"

"Certainly I do, but I'm afraid I can't eat hay."

The men laughed uproariously at this bit of humor.

"Must be a clown," suggested one.

"No, I am not a clown.  My little friend who performs with me,
and comes from the same town I do, is one.  I wish he were here.
He would make you laugh until you couldn't stand without leaning
against something."

"Here, Joe!  Here, Joe!" their guide began calling in a loud
voice, alternating with loud whistling.

Phil heard a rustling over behind the straw stack, and then out
trotted a big, black draft horse, a heavy-footed, broad-backed
Percheron, to his astonishment.

"My, that's a fine piece of horse flesh," glowed the lad.
"We have several teams of those fellows for the heavy work with
the show.  Of course we don't use them in the ring.  Is this what
you brought me here to see?"

"Yep.  Git up there."

"What do you mean?"

"Git up and show us fellers if you're a real circus man."

"You mean you want me to ride him?" said Phil.

"Sure thing."

"How?"

"Git on his back and do one of them bareback stunts you was
telling us about," and the fellow winked covertly at his
companions, as much as if to say, "we've got him going
this time."

"What; here in this rough yard?"

"Yep."

Phil considered for a moment, stamping about on the straw-covered
ground, then sizing up the horse critically.

"All right.  Bring me a bridle and fasten a long enough rein to
the bit so I can get hold of it standing up."

He was really going to do as they demanded.  The men were
surprised.
They had not believed he could, and now, at any rate, he was
going
to make an effort to make good his boast.

A bridle was quickly fetched and slipped on the head of old Joe.
In place of reins the farmer attached a rope to the bridle,
Phil measuring on the back of the horse to show how long it
should be cut.

The preparations all complete, Phil grasped the rein and
vaulted to the high back of the animal, landing astride neatly.
This brought an exclamation of approval from the audience.

"Now git up on your feet."

"Don't be in a hurry.  I want to ride him around the stack a few
times to get the hang of the ring," laughed Phil.  "It's a good,
safe place to fall, anyway.  Do I get some breakfast after
this exhibition?" he questioned.

"That depends.  Go on."

"Gid-dap!" commanded Phil, patting the black on its powerful
neck.
Then they went trotting around the stack, the men backing off to
get a better view of the exhibition.

On the second round Phil drew up before them.

"Got any chalk on the place?" he asked.

"Reckon there's some in the barn."

"Please fetch it."

They did not know what he wanted chalk for, but the owner of
the place hurried to fetch it.  In the meantime Phil was slowly
removing his shoes, which he threw to one side of the yard.
Bidding the men break up the chalk into powder, he smeared the
bottoms of his stockings with the white powder, sprinkling a
liberal supply on the back of the horse.

"Here, here!  What you doing?  I have to curry that critter down
every morning," shouted the owner.

Phil grinned and clucked to the horse, whose motion he had caught
in his brief ride about the stack, and once more disappeared
around the pile.  When he hove in sight again, the black was
trotting briskly, with Phil Forrest standing erect, far back on
the animal's hips, urging him along with sharp little cries, and
dancing about as much at home as if he were on the solid ground.

The farmers looked on with wide-open mouths, too amazed to speak.

Phil uttered a shout, and set the black going about the
stack faster and faster, throwing himself into all manner of
artistic positions.

After the horse had gotten a little used to the strange work,
Phil threw down the reins and rode without anything of the sort
to give him any support.

Probably few farm barnyards had ever offered an attraction like
it before.

"Come up here!" cried the lad, to the lighter of the men.
"I'll give you a lesson."

The fellow protested, but his companions grabbed him and threw
him to old Joe's back.  Phil grabbed his pupil by the coat
collar, jerking him to his feet and started old Joe going at a
lively clip.

You should have heard those farmers howl, at the ludicrous sight
of their companion sprawling all over the back of the black, with
Phil, red-faced, struggling with all his might to keep the fellow
on, and at the same time prevent himself taking a tumble!

At last the burden was too much for Phil, and his companion took
an inglorious tumble, head first into the straw at the foot of
the stack, while the farmers threw themselves down, rolling about
and making a great din with their howls of merriment.

"There, I guess I have earned my breakfast," decided the lad,
dropping off near the spot where he had cast his shoes.

"You bet you have, little pardner.  You jest come over to the
house and fill up on salt pork and sauerkraut.  You kin stay all
summer if you want to.  Hungry?"

"So hungry that, if my collar were loose, it would be falling
down over my feet," grinned the lad.



CHAPTER XXI

WHEN THE CRASH CAME

There was rejoicing on the part of his fellows, and relief in
the heart of Mr. Sparling when, along toward noon next day,
Phil Forrest came strolling on the circus lot at St. Joseph.

His friends, the farmers, had not only given him food and
lodging, but had advanced him enough money for his fare through
to join the show.  His first duty was to get some money from
Mr. Sparling and send it back to his benefactors.

This done, Phil repaired to the owner's tent where he knew Mr.
Sparling was anxiously waiting to hear what had happened to him.

Phil went over the circumstances in detail, while Mr. Sparling
listened gravely at first, then with rising color as his
anger increased.

"It's Red Larry!" decided Mr. Sparling, with an emphasizing blow
of his fist on the desk before him.

"After I thought the matter over that was what I decided--I mean
that was the decision I came to."

"Right.  Another season I'll have an officer with this show.
That's the only way we can protect ourselves."

"Do all the big shows carry an officer?" asked Phil.

"Yes; they have a detective with them--not a tin badge detective,
but a real one.  Don't try to go out today.  Get your dinner and
rest up for the afternoon performance.  I think you had better go
to the train in my carriage tonight.  I'm not going to take any
more such chances with you."

"I'll look out for myself after this, Mr. Sparling," laughed
Phil.
"I think it was only two days ago that I said I wasn't afraid of
Larry--that he couldn't get me.  But he did."

That afternoon, as Phil related his experiences to the dressing
tent, he included the barnyard circus, which set the performers
in a roar.

Phil felt a little sore and stiff after his knockout and his
long ride in the freight car; but, after taking half an hour of
bending exercises in the paddock, he felt himself fit to go on
with his ring and bareback acts.

Both his acts passed off successfully, as did the Grand Entry in
which he rode old Emperor.

That night, after the performance, Phil hurried to the train,
but kept a weather eye out that he might not be assaulted again.
He found himself hungry, and, repairing to the accommodation car
for a lunch, discovered Teddy stowing away food at a great rate.

"So you're here, are you?" laughed Phil.

"Yep; I live here most of the time," grinned Teddy.  "They like
to have me eat here.  I'm a sort of nest egg, you know.  It makes
the others hungry to see me eat, and they file in in a
perfect procession.  How's your head?"

"Still a size too large," answered Phil, sinking down on a stool
and ordering a sandwich.

As the lads ate and talked two or three other performers came in,
whereupon the conversation became more general.

All at once there came a bang as a switching engine bumped into
the rear of their car.  Teddy about to pass a cup of steaming
coffee to his lips, spilled most of it down his neck.

"Ouch!" he yelled, springing up, dancing about the floor,
holding his clothes as far from his body as possible.  "Here, you
quit that!" he yelled, poking his head out of a window.  "If you
do that again I'll trim you with a pitcher of coffee and see how
you like that."

Bang!

Once more the engine smashed into them, having failed to make the
coupling the first time.

Teddy sat down heavily in the middle of the car, just as Little
Dimples tripped in.  In one hand he held a sandwich half
consumed, while with the other he was still stretching his collar
as far from his neck as it would go.

"Why, Teddy," exclaimed Dimples, "what are you doing on the
floor?"

"Eating my lunch.  Always eat it sitting on the floor, you know,"
growled the boy, at which there was a roar from the others.

"What are they trying to do out there?" questioned Phil.

"Going to shift us about on another track, I guess.  I was nearly
thrown down when I tried to get on the platform.  I never saw a
road where they were so rough.  Did you?"

"Yes; I rode on one the other night that could beat this,"
grinned Phil.

A few minutes later the car got under motion, pushed by a
switching engine, and began banging along merrily over switches,
tearing through the yard at high speed.

"We seem to be in a hurry 'bout something," grunted Teddy.
"Maybe they've hooked us on the wrong train, and we're bound for
somewhere else."

"No, I don't think so," replied Phil.  "You should be used to
this sort of thing by this time."

"I don't care as long as the food holds out.  It doesn't make any
difference where they take us."

"What section does this car go out on tonight, steward?"
questioned Phil.

"The last.  Goes out with the sleepers."

"That explains it.  They are shifting us around, making up the
last section and to get us out of the way of section No. 2.
I never can keep these trains straight in my mind, they change
them so frequently.  But it's better than riding in a canvas
wagon over a rough country road, isn't it, Teddy?"

"Worse," grunted the lad.  "You never know when you're going to
get your everlasting bump, and you don't have any net to fall in
when you do.  Hey, they're at it again!"

His words were almost prophetic.

There followed a sudden jolt, a deafening crash, accompanied by
cries from the cooks and waiters at the far end of the car.

"Get a net!" howled Teddy.

"We're off the rails," cried the performers.

"Look out for yourselves!"

Little Dimples was hurled from her stool at the lunch counter,
and launched straight toward a window from which the glass was
showering into the car.

Phil made a spring, catching her in his arms.  But the impact
and the jolt were too much for him.  He went down in a heap,
Little Dimples falling half over him.

He made a desperate grab for her, but the woman's skirts
slipped through his hand and she plunged on toward the far end
of the car.

"Look out for the coffee boiler."

A yell from a waiter told them that the warning had come
too late.  The man had gotten a large part of the contents
of the boiler over him.

But all at once those in the car began to realize that something
else was occurring.  Somehow, they could feel the accommodation
car wavering as if on the brink of a precipice.  Then it began to
settle slowly and the mystified performers and car hands thought
it was going to rest where it was on the ties.

Instead, the car took a sudden lurch.

"We're going over something!" cried a voice.

Phil, who had scrambled quickly to his feet, half-dazed from the
fall, stood irresolutely for a few seconds then began making his
way toward where Little Dimples had fallen.

At that moment young Forrest was hurled with great force against
the side of the car.  Everything in the car seemed suddenly to
have become the center of a miniature cyclone.  Dishes, cooking
utensils, tables and chairs were flying through the air, the
noise within the car accompanied by a sickening, grinding series
of crashes from without.

Groans were already distinguishable above the deafening crashes.

Those who were able to think realized that the accommodation car
was falling over an embankment of some sort.

Through accident or design, what is known as a "blind switch" had
been turned while the engine was shunting the accommodation car
about the yards.  The result was that the car had left the rails,
bumped along on the ties for a distance, then had toppled over an
embankment that was some twenty feet high.

It seemed as if all in that ill-fated car must be killed or
maimed for life.  A series of shrill blasts from the engine
called for help.

The crash had been heard all over the railroad yards.
Railroad men and circus men had rushed toward the spot where
the accommodation car had gone over the embankment, Mr. Sparling
among the number.  He had just arrived at the yards when the
accident occurred.

Fortunately, the wrecking crew was ready for instant service,
and these men were rushed without an instant's delay to the
outskirts of the yard where the wreck had occurred.

However, ere the men got there a startling cry rose from hundreds
of throats.

"Fire!  The car is on fire!"

"Break in the doors!  Smash the sides in!"

Yet no one seemed to have the presence of mind to do anything.
Phil had been hurled through a broken widow, landing halfway down
the bank, on the uphill side of the car, else he must have been
crushed to death.  But so thoroughly dazed was he that he was
unable to move.

Finally someone discovered him and picked him up.

"Here's one of them," announced a bystander.  "It's a kid, too."

Mr. Sparling came charging down the bank.

"Who is it?  Where is he?" he bellowed.

"Here."

"It's Phil Forrest," cried one of the showmen, recognizing the
lad, whose face was streaked where it had been cut by the jagged
glass in the broken window.

"Is he killed?"

"No; he's alive.  He's coming around now."

Phil sat up and rubbed his eyes.

All at once he understood what had happened.  He staggered to his
feet holding to a man standing beside him.

"Why don't you do something?" cried Phil.  "Don't you know there
are people in that car?"

"It's burning up.  Nobody dares get in till the wreckers can get
here and smash in the side of the car," was the answer.

"What?" fairly screamed Phil Forrest.  "Nobody dares go in
that car?  Somebody does dare!"

"Come back, come back, Phil!  You can't do anything," shouted a
fellow performer.

But the lad did not even hear him.  He was leaping, falling
and rolling down the bank, regardless of the danger that he was
approaching, for the flames already showed through a broken spot
in the roof of the car, which was lying half on its side at the
foot of the embankment.

Without an instant's hesitation Phil, as he came up alongside,
raised a foot, smashing out the remaining pieces of glass in
a window.  Then he plunged in head first.

The spectators groaned.

"Dimples!  Dimples!" he shouted.  "Are you alive?"

"Yes, here.  Be quick!  I'm pinned down!"

Phil rushed to her assistance.  Her legs were pinioned beneath
a heavy timber.  Phil attacked it desperately, tugging and
grunting, the perspiration rolling down his face, for the heat
in there was now almost more than he could bear.

With a mighty effort he wrenched the timber from the prostrate
woman, then quickly gathered her up in his arms.

"I knew you'd come, Phil, if you were alive," she breathed,
her head resting on his shoulder.

"Do you know where Teddy is?" he asked, plunging through the
blinding smoke to the window where voices already were calling
to him.

"At the other end--I think," she choked.

The lad passed her out to waiting arms.

"Come out!  Come out of that!" bellowed the stentorian voice of
Mr. Sparling.  But Phil had turned back.

"Teddy!" he called, the words choked back into his throat by the
suffocating smoke.

"Wow!  Get me out of here.  I'm--I'm," then the lad went off into
a violent fit of coughing.

By this time two others, braver than the rest, had climbed in
through the window.

"Where are they all?" called a voice.

"I don't know.  You'll have to hunt for them.  I'm after you,
Teddy.
Are you held down by something, too?"

"The whole car's on me, and I'm burning up."

Phil, guided by the boy's voice, groped his way along and soon
found his hands gripped by those of his little companion.

"Where are you fast?"

"My feet!"

It proved an easy matter to liberate Teddy and drag him to the
window, where Phil dumped him out.

Mr. Sparling had climbed in by this time, and the wrecking crew
were thundering at the roof to let the smoke and flames out,
while others had crawled in with their fire extinguishers.

There were now quite a number of brave men in the car all working
with desperate haste to rescue the imprisoned circus people.

"All out!" bellowed the foreman of the wrecking crew.  "The roof
will be down in a minute!"

"All out!" roared Mr. Sparling, himself making a dash for
a window.

Others piled out with a rush, the flames gaining very rapid
headway now.

"Phil!  Phil!  Where's Forrest?" called Mr. Sparling.

"He isn't here.  Maybe--"

"Then he's in that car.  He'll be burned alive!  No one can live
five minutes in there now!"

The fire department had arrived on the scene, and the men were
running two lines of hose over the tracks.

"Phil in there?"

It was a howl--a startled howl rather than a spoken question.
The voice belonged to Teddy Tucker.

Teddy rushed through the crowd, pushing obstructors aside,
and hurled himself through the window into the burning car.
He looked more like a big, round ball than anything else.

No sooner had Tucker landed fairly inside than he uttered a yell.

"Phil!"

There was no answer.

"Where--"

Teddy went down like a flash, bowled over by a heavy stream of
water from the firemen's hose.

As it chanced he fell prone across a heap of some sort,
choking and growling with rage at what had befallen him.

"Phil!"

"Yes," answered a voice from the heap.

"I've got him!" howled Teddy, springing up and dragging the
half-dazed Phil Forrest to the window.  There both boys were
hauled out, Teddy and Phil collapsing on the embankment from
the smoke that they had inhaled.

"Phil!  Teddy!" begged Mr. Sparling, throwing himself
beside them.

"Get a net!" muttered Teddy, then swooned.



CHAPTER XXII

WHAT HAPPENED TO A PACEMAKER

"Find out how that car came to tumble off," were the first words
Phil uttered after they had restored him to consciousness.

Teddy, however, was bemoaning the loss of the sandwich that he
had bought but had not eaten.

"The accident shall be investigated by me personally before
this section leaves the yard," said Mr. Sparling.  "I am glad
you suggested it, Phil.  How do you feel?"

"I am all right.  Did somebody pull me out?"

"Yes, Teddy did.  You are a pair of brave boys.  I guess this
outfit knows now the stuff you two are made of, if it never did
before," glowed Mr. Sparling.

"How many were killed?"

"None.  The head steward has a broken leg, one waiter a few ribs
smashed in, and another has lost a finger.  I reckon the railroad
will have a nice bill of damages to pay for this night's work.
Were you in the car when it occurred?"

"Yes.  They had been handling it rather roughly.  We spoke of it
at the time.  We were moving down the yard when suddenly one end
seemed to drop right off the track as if we had come to the end
of it."

Mr. Sparling nodded.

"I'll go into it with the railroad people at once.  You two get
into your berths.  Can you walk?"

"Oh, yes."

"How about you, Tucker,"

"I can creep all right.  I learned to do that when I was in
long pants."

"I guess you mean long dresses," answered the showman.

"I guess I do."

The boys were helped to the sleeper, where they were put to bed.
Phil had been slightly burned on one hand while Teddy got what he
called "a free hair cut," meaning that his hair had been pretty
well singed.  Otherwise they were none the worse for their
experiences, save for the slight cuts Phil had received by
coming in contact with broken glass and some burns from the
coffee boiler.

They were quite ready to go to sleep soon after being put to bed,
neither awakening until they reached the next show town on the
following morning.

When the two lads pulled themselves up in their berths the sun
was well up, orders having been given not to disturb them.

"Almost seven o'clock, Teddy," cried Phil.

"Don't care if it's seventeen o'clock," growled Teddy.
"Lemme sleep."

"All right, but you will miss your breakfast."

That word "breakfast" acted almost magically on Tucker.
Instantly he landed in the middle of the aisle on all fours, and,
straightening up, began groping sleepily for his clothes.

Phil laughed and chuckled.

"How do you feel, Teddy?"

"Like a roast pig being served on a platter in the cook tent.
Do you need a net this morning?"

"No, I think not.  I'm rather sore where I got cut, but I guess
I am pretty fit otherwise."

After washing and dressing the lads set out across the fields
for the lot, which they could see some distance to the west of
the sidings, where their sleepers had been shifted.  Both were
hungry, for it is not an easy matter to spoil a boy's appetite.
Railroad wrecks will not do it in every case, nor did they
in this.

But, before the morning ended, the cook tent had seen more
excitement than in many days--in fact more than at any time so
far that season.

The moment Phil and Teddy strolled in, each bearing the marks of
the wreck on face and head everybody, except the Legless Man,
stood up.  Three rousing cheers and a tiger for the Circus Boys,
were given with a will, and then the lads found themselves the
center of a throng of performers, roustabouts and freaks all of
whom showered their congratulations on the boys for their heroism
in saving other's lives at the risk of their own.

Little Dimples was not one whit behind the others.  She praised
them both, much to Phil's discomfiture and Teddy's pleasure.

"Teddy, you are a hero after all," she beamed.

"Me?  Me a hero?" he questioned, pointing to himself.

"Yes, you.  I always knew you would be if you had half a chance.
Of course Phil had proved before that he was."

Teddy threw out his chest, thrusting both hands in his
trousers pockets.

"Oh, I don't know.  It wasn't so much.  How'd you get out?"

"Your friend, Phil, here, is responsible for my not being in the
freak class this morning.  There's Mr. Sparling beckoning to you.
I think he wants you both."

The boys walked over as soon as they could get away from
the others.  That morning they sat at the executive table
with the owner of the show, his wife and the members of
Mr. Sparling's staff.

For once Teddy went through a meal with great dignity,
as befitted one who was in the hero class.

"What happened to cause the wreck last night?" asked Phil,
turning to his host of the morning at the first opportunity.

"The car went off over a blind switch that had been opened."

"By whom?"

"Ah, that's the question."

"Perhaps one of the railroad men opened it by mistake,"
suggested Teddy.  "Nobody else would have a key."

"You'll find no railroad man made that blunder," replied Phil.

"No!  While the railroad is responsible for the damages,
I hardly think they are for the wreck.  No key was used to open
the switch."

"No key?"

"No."

"How, then?"

"The lock was wrenched off with an iron bar and the switch
wedged fast, so there could be no doubt about what would happen.
It might have happened to some other car not belonging to us,
though it was a pretty safe gamble that it would catch one
of ours."

"I thought as much," nodded Phil.  "But perhaps its just as
well."

"What do you mean by that?" questioned the showman sharply.

"That the railroad folks will do what the police are too lazy
to do."

"What?"

"Get after the fellow who did it," suggested Phil wisely.

"That's so!  That's so!  I hadn't thought of it in that
light before.  You've got a long head, my boy.  You always
have had, for that matter as long as I have known you, so it
stands to reason that you must always have been that way."

Teddy, having finished his breakfast, excused himself and
strolled off to another part of the tent where he might find
more excitement.  He sat down in his own place near the freak
table and began talking shop with some of the performers, while
Phil and Mr. Sparling continued their conversation.

"I haven't given up hopes of catching him myself, Mr. Sparling."

"You came pretty close to it Saturday night."

"And I wasn't so far from it last night either," laughed the boy.
"Going to be able to save the accommodation car?"

"No, it's a hopeless wreck."

"You probably will not put on another this season then?"

"What would you suggest?"

"I should not think it would be advisable.  Most of the people go
downtown, anyway, to get their lunch after the show."

"Exactly.  That's the way it appeared to me, but I wanted to get
your point of view."  It was not that the owner had not made up
his mind, but that he wanted to get Phil Forrest's mind working
from the point of view of the manager and owner of a circus,
seeing in Phil, as he did, the making of a future great showman.

All at once their conversation was disturbed by a great uproar at
the further end of the tent, near where Teddy sat.

Two midgets, arguing the question as to which of them was the
Smallest Man in the World, had become so heated that they fell to
pummeling each other with their tiny fists.

Instantly the tent was in confusion, and with one accord
the performers and freaks gathered around to watch the
miniature battle.

A waiter in his excitement, stepped in a woodchuck hole, spilling
a bowl of steaming hot soup down the Fat Woman's neck.

"Help!  Help!  I'm on fire!" she shrieked.

Teddy, now that he had become a hero, felt called upon to hurry
to the rescue.  Seizing a pitcher of ice water, he leaped over a
bench and dumped the contents of the pitcher over the head of the
Fattest Woman on Earth.  Several chunks of ice, along with a
liberal quantity of the water, slid down her neck.

This was more than human flesh could stand.  The Fat Woman
staggered to her feet uttering a series of screams that might
have been heard all over the lot, while those on the outside
came rushing in to assist in what they believed to be a
serious disturbance.

Mr. Sparling pushed his way through the crowd, roaring out
command after command, but somehow, the ring about the Fat Woman
and the fighting midgets did not give way readily.  The show
people were too much engrossed in the funny spectacle of the
midgets to wish to be disturbed.

Not so Teddy Tucker.

Having quenched the fire that was consuming the Fat Woman,
he pushed his way through the crowd, with the stern command,
"Stand aside here!" and fell upon the Lilliputian gladiators.

"Break away!" roared Teddy, grasping each by the collar and
giving him a violent tug.

What was his surprise when both the little men suddenly turned
upon him and started pushing and beating him.

Taken unawares, Teddy began to back up, to the accompaniment of
the jeers of the spectators.

The crowd howled its appreciation of the turn affairs had taken,
Teddy steadily giving ground before the enraged Lilliputians.

As it chanced a washtub filled with pink lemonade that had been
prepared for the thirsty crowds stood directly in the lad's path.
If anyone observed it, he did not so inform Teddy.

All at once the Circus Boy sat down in the tub of pink lemonade
with a loud splash, pink fluid spurting up in a veritable
fountain over such parts of him as were not already in the tub.

Teddy howled for help, while the show people shrieked with
delight, the lad in his efforts to get out of the tub, falling
back each time, until finally rescued from his uncomfortable
position by the owner of the show himself.

"That's what you get for meddling with other peoples' affairs,"
chided Phil, laughing immoderately as he observed the rueful
countenance of his friend.

"If I hadn't meddled with you last night, you'd have been a dead
one today," retorted the lad.  "Anyway, I've made a loud splash
this morning."



CHAPTER XXIII

SEARCHING THE TRAIN

Salt Lake City proved an unusual attraction to the Circus Boys,
they having read so much of it in story and textbooks.

Here they visited the great Mormon Temple.  During their two day
stand they made a trip out to the Great Salt Lake where Teddy
Tucker insisted in going in swimming.  His surprise was great
when he found that he could not swim at all in the thick,
salty water.

The trip over the mountains, through the wonderful scenery of the
Rockies and the deep canyons where the sunlight seldom reaches
was one of unending interest to them.

Most of the show people had been over this same ground with other
circuses many times before, for there are few corners of the
civilized world that the seasoned showman has not visited at
least once in his life.

It was all new to the Circus Boys, however, and in the long day
trips over mountain and plain, they found themselves fully
occupied with the new, entrancing scenes.

By this time both lads had become really finished performers in
their various acts, and they had gone on through the greater part
of the season without serious accident in their work.  Of course
they had had tumbles, as all showmen do, but somehow they managed
to come off with whole skins.

For a time after the wreck of the accommodation car the show had
no further trouble that could be laid at the door of Red Larry
or his partner.  However, after a few days, the reports of
burglaries in towns where the show exhibited became even
more numerous.

"We can't furnish police protection to the places we visit,"
answered Mr. Sparling, when spoken to about this.  "But, if ever
I get my hands on that red head, the fur will fly!"

Passing out of the state of Utah, a few stands were made in
Nevada, but the jumps were now long and it was all the circus
trains could do to get from stand to stand in time.  As it was,
they were not always able to give the parade, but the manager
made up for this by getting up a free show out in front of the
big top just before the afternoon and evening performances began.

Reno was the last town played in Nevada, and everyone breathed a
sigh of relief as the tents were struck and the show moved across
the line into California.  The difficulty of getting water for
man and beast had proved a most serious one.  At Reno, however,
a most serious thing had occurred, one that disturbed the owner
of the show very greatly.

Many of the guy ropes holding the big top, had been cut while the
performance was going on and most of the canvasmen and laborers
were engaged in taking down and loading the menagerie outfit.

A wind storm was coming up, but fortunately it veered off before
reaching Reno.  The severed ropes were not discovered until after
the show was over and the tent was being struck.  Mr. Sparling
had been quickly summoned.  After a careful examination of the
ropes he understood what had happened.  Phil, too, had discovered
one cut rope and the others, on his way from the dressing tent to
the front, after finishing his performance.

But there was nothing now that required his looking up
Mr. Sparling, in view of the fact that the canvas was already
coming down.  Yet after getting his usual night lunch in the
town, the lad strolled over to the railroad yards intending to
visit the manager as soon as the latter should have returned
from the lot.

The two met just outside the owner's private car, a short time
after the loading had been completed.

"Oh, I want to see you, Mr. Sparling, if you have the time."

"I've always time for that.  I was in hopes I would get a
chance to have a chat with you before we got started.  Will you
come in?"

"Yes, thank you."

Entering the private car Mr. Sparling took off his coat and threw
himself into a chair in front of his roll-top desk.

"Phil, there's deviltry going on in this outfit again," he said
fixing a stern eye on the little Circus Boy.

Phil nodded.

"You don't seem to be very much surprised."

"I'm not.  I think I know what you mean."

"You do?  What for instance?"

"The cutting of those ropes tonight," smiled Phil.

"You know that?"

The lad nodded again, but this time with more emphasis.

"Is there anything that goes on in this outfit that you do not
know about?"

"Oh, I presume so.  If I hadn't chanced to walk over a place
where there should have been a guy rope I probably never should
have discovered what had been done."

"I'll bet you would," answered the owner, gazing at the
lad admiringly.

"It is fortunate for us that we did not have a wind storm during
the evening."

"Fortunate for the audience, I should say.  Nothing could have
held the tent with those ropes gone.  It showed that the cordage
had been cut by someone very familiar with the canvas.  Almost a
breath of wind would have caused the whole big top to collapse,
and then a lot of people might have been killed.  Well, the
season is almost at an end now.  If we are lucky we shall soon be
out of it."

"All the more reason for getting the fellow at once,"
nodded Phil.

"Why?"

"After a few days we shall be closing, and then we shall not get
an opportunity."

"That's good logic.  I agree with you.  I shall be delighted
to place these hands of mine right on that fiend's throat.
But first, will you tell me how I am going to do it?
Haven't we been trying to catch him ever since those two
men were discharged?  Both of them are in this thing."

"I think you will find that there is only one now.  I believe
Larry is working alone.  I haven't any particular reason for
thinking this; it just sort of seems to me to be so."

"Any suggestions, Phil?  I'll confess that I am at my wits' end."

"Yes, I have been thinking of a plan lately."

"What is it?"

"Have the trains searched."

"What?"

"You will remember my saying, sometime ago, that I believed the
fellow was still traveling with us and--"

"But how--where could he ride that he would not be sure
of discovery?" protested Mr. Sparling.

"He has friends with the show, that's how," answered
Phil convincingly.

"You amaze me."

"All the same, I believe you will find that to be the case."

"And you would suggest searching the trains?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"Now.  No; I don't mean at this very minute.  I should suggest
that tomorrow morning, say at daybreak, you send men over this
entire train.  Don't let them miss a single corner where a man
might hide."

"Yes; but this isn't the only train in the show."

"I know.  At the first stop, or you might do it here before
we start, wire ahead to your other train managers to do the
same thing.  Tell them who it is you suspect.  You'll be able to
catch the squadron before they get in, though I do not believe
our man will be found anywhere on that train."

"Why not?"

"The squadron went out before the guy ropes were cut."

"Great head!  Great head, Phil Forrest," glowed the manager.
"You're a bigger man than I am any day in the week.
Then, according to your reasoning, the fellow ought either
to be on this section or the one just ahead of it?"

"Yes.  But don't laugh at me if I don't happen to be right.
It's just an idea I have gotten into my head."

"I most certainly shall not laugh, my boy.  I am almost
convinced that you are right.  At least, the plan is well worth
carrying out.  I'll give the orders to the train managers before
we start."

"I would suggest that you tell them not to give the orders to the
men until ready to begin the search in the morning."

"Good!  Fine!" glowed the showman.

"I'm going to turn out and help search this section myself,"
said Phil.  "You know I have some interest in it, seeing that
it is my plan," he smiled.

"Better keep out of it," advised Mr. Sparling.  "You might fall
off from the cars.  You are not used to walking over the tops
of them."

"Oh, yes I am.  I have done it a number of times this season just
to help me to steady my nerves.  I can walk a swaying box car in
a gale of wind and not get dizzy."

Mr. Sparling held up his hands protestingly.

"Don't tell me any more.  I believe you.  If you told me you
could run the engine I'd believe you.  If there be anything you
don't know how to do, or at least know something about, I should
be glad to know what that something is."

"May I send your messages?" asked the lad.  "If you will write
them now I'll take them over to the station.  It must be nearly
starting time."

"Yes; it is.  No; I'll call one of the men."

Mr. Sparling threw up his desk and rapidly scribbled his
directions to the train managers ahead.  After that he sent
forward for the manager of their particular section, to whom he
confided Phil Forrest's plan, the lad taking part in the
discussion that followed.  The train manager laughed at the idea
that anyone could steal a ride on his train persistently without
being detected.

Mr. Sparling very emphatically told the manager that what he
thought about it played no part in the matter at all.  He was
expected to make a thorough search of the train."

"His search won't amount to anything" thought Phil shrewdly.
"I'll do the searching for this section and I'll find the fellow
if he is on board.  I hope I shall.  I owe Red Larry something,
and I'm anxious to pay the debt."

The train soon started, Phil bidding his employer good night,
went forward to No. 1 which was the forward sleeper on the train,
next to the box and flat cars.  He peered into Teddy Tucker's
berth, finding that lad sound asleep, after which he tumbled into
his own bed.

But Phil was restless.  He was so afraid that he would oversleep
that he slept very little during the night.

At the first streak of dawn he tumbled quietly from his berth,
and, putting on his clothes, stepped out to the front platform,
where he took a long breath of the fresh morning air.

The train was climbing a long grade in the Sierra Nevadas and the
car couplings were groaning under the weight put upon them.

Phil climbed to the top of the big stock car just ahead of him,
and sat down on the brake wheel.

Far ahead he saw several men going over the cars.

"They have not only begun the search but they are almost
through," muttered Phil.  "As I thought, they are not half
doing it.  I guess I'll take a hand."

Phil stood up, caught his balance and began walking steadily
over the top of the swaying car.  At the other end of the car he
opened the trap door which was used to push hay through for the
animals, examining its interior carefully.  There was no sign of
a stranger inside, nor did he expect to find any there.

"He'll be in a place less likely to be looked into," muttered the
lad starting on again and jumping down to a flat car just ahead.



CHAPTER XXIV

CONCLUSION

"There's somebody climbing over the train," called one of the
searchers to the train manager.

All hands turned, gazing off toward Phil.  He swung his hands
toward them, whereat they recognized the lad and went on about
their work.

"Wonder they saw even me!" grumbled the lad, moving slowly along.
It seemed almost impossible that one could hide on a train
like that.  Here and there men were sleeping under the wagons,
and Phil made it his business to get a look into the face of
each of them.  Not a man did he find who bore the slightest
resemblance to Red Larry or Bad Eye.

"It doesn't look very promising, I must say," he muttered,
jumping lightly from one flat car to another.

Phil had searched faithfully until finally he reached a "flat"
just behind that on which stood the great gilded band wagon.
Now, under its covering of heavy canvas, none of its gaudy
trimmings were to be seen.

Phil sat down on the low projection at the side of the flat car,
eyeing the band wagon suspiciously.

Somehow he could not rid himself of the impression that that
wagon would bear scrutiny.

"I'll bet they never looked into it.  Last year when we were a
road show, I remember how the men used to sleep in there and how
Teddy got thrown out when he walked on somebody's face," and Phil
laughed softly at the memory.  "I'm going to climb up there."

To do this was not an easy matter, for the band wagon seemed to
loom above him like a tent.  The canvas stretched over it,
extending clear down to the wheels, to which it was secured
by ropes.  The only way the Circus Boy could get up into the
wagon seemed to be to crawl under the canvas at the bottom and
gradually to work his way up.

"I'm going to try it," he decided all at once.  "Of course
they didn't look into it.  Maybe they are afraid they will
find someone.  Well, here goes!  If I fall off that will be the
last of me, but I am not going to fall.  I ought to be able to
climb by this time if I'm ever going to."

Phil got up promptly, glanced toward the long train that was
winding its way up the steep mountain, then stepped across
the intervening space between the two cars.  He wasted no time,
but immediately lifted the canvas and peered along the side of
the wagon.

He discovered that he would have to go to the forward end of it
in order to reach the top, because the steps were at that end.
There the canvas was drawn tighter, so the lad untied one of the
ropes, leaving one corner of the covering flapping in the breeze.

Cautiously and quietly he began climbing up, the wagon swaying
dizzily with the motion of the train, making it more and more
difficult to cling to it as he got nearer the top.  The air was
close, and soon after the boy began going up, the sun beat down
on the canvas cover suffocatingly.

Now he had reached the top.  High seats intervened between him
and the other end, so that he could not see far ahead of him.
Phil dropped down into the wagon and began creeping toward
the rear.

He stumbled over some properties that had been stowed in the
wagon, making a great clatter.  Instantly there was a commotion
in the other end of the car.

Phil scrambled up quickly and crawled over the high seat ahead
of him.  As he did so he uttered an exclamation.  The red head of
Red Larry could be seen, his beady eyes peering over the back of
a seat.

"I've got you this time, Red!" exulted Phil, clambering over the
seat in such a hurry that he fell in a heap on the other side
of it.

The lad seemed to have no sense that he was placing himself in
grave peril.  He had no fear in his makeup, and his every nerve
was centered on capturing the desperate, revengeful man who had
not only assaulted Phil, but who had caused so much damage to the
Sparling Shows.

"Don't you dare come near me, you young cub!" threatened Red,
as with rage-distorted face he suddenly whipped out a knife.

Phil picked up a club and started toward him.  The club happened
to be a tent stake.  Red observed the action, and crouching low
waited as the lad approached him.

"I'm going to get you, Red!  I'm not afraid of your knife.
You can't touch me with it because before you get the chance
I'm going to slam you over the head with this tent stake,"
grinned Phil Forrest.

Red snarled and showed his teeth.

"Oh, you needn't think you can get away.  The men are hunting for
you further up the train.  They'll be along here in a minute, and
then I reckon you'll be tied up and dumped into the lion cage,
though I don't think even a lion would eat such a mean hound as
you are."

Suddenly the man straightened up.  Now, he held something in his
hand besides the knife.  It was a stake.

Red drew back his arm, hurling the heavy stick straight at his
young adversary's head.  Phil, observing the movement let
drive his own tent stake, but having to throw so hurriedly, his
aim was poor.  Red Larry's aim, on the other hand was better.
Phil dodged like a flash.

Had he not done so the stake would have struck him squarely in
the face.  As it was the missile grazed the side of his head,
causing the lad to fall in a heap.

Red Larry hesitated only for a second, then leaping to the high
rear seat of the wagon drew his knife along the canvas above him,
opening a great slit in it.  Through the opening thus made he
peered cautiously.  What he saw evidently convinced him of the
truth of what Phil had just said.  Up toward the head of the
train the searchers were at work, and from what Red had heard he
realized they were looking for him.

Red did not delay a second.  He scrambled out through the canvas
just as Phil pulled himself to his feet.  The lad could see the
fellow's legs dangling through the canvas.

Phil uttered a yell, hurling himself wildly over the high-backed
seats in an effort to catch and hold the legs ere Red could
get out.  But Larry heard him coming, and quickly clambered down
the back of the wagon to the deck of the flat car.

Phil once more grabbed up his own tent stake as he stumbled back
through the wagon.

"I've got you!" yelled the boy as he pulled himself up through
the opening, observing Red standing hesitatingly on the flat car
with a frightened look in his eyes.

"Hi!  Hi!" cried Phil, turning and gesticulating wildly at the
men further up the train "I've got him!  Hurry!  I--"

Something sang by his head and dropped quivering in the canvas
beyond him.  It was the discharged tentman's knife which he had
aimed at Phil, his aim having been destroyed by a lurch of the
car, thus saving the Circus Boy's life.

"Want to kill me, do you?  I've got you now!  The men are coming.
Don't you dare move or I'll drop this stake on you.  I can't miss
you this time."

Red after one hesitating glance, faced the front and leaped from
the train down the long, sloping cinder-covered bank.

Phil let drive his tent stake.  It caught Red on the shoulder,
bowling the rascal over like a nine pin.

Phil Forrest uttered a yell of exultation, suddenly dropping to
the floor of the car at the imminent risk of his life.

The men were now piling over the cars in his direction.  He did
not know whether they had seen Red jump or not.  Phil did not
waste any time in idle speculation.

"Come on!" he shouted, springing to the edge of the car,
keeping himself from falling by grasping a wheel of the wagon.

Then Phil Forrest did a daring thing.  Crouching low,
choosing his time unerringly, he jumped from the train.
Fortunately for him, the cars were running slowly up the
heavy grade.  But, slowly as they were going, the lad turned
several rapid handsprings after having struck the ground,
coming to a stop halfway down the slope, somewhat dazed
from the shock and sudden whirling about.

But he was on his feet in a twinkling, and running toward the
spot where Red was painfully picking himself up.  Phil slipped
and stumbled as the cinders gave way beneath his feet but ran
on with a grim determination not to let his man escape him
this time.

Both were now weaponless, so far as the lad knew.  Red had
possessed a revolver, but in his sudden jump from the train he
had lost it, and there was now no time to look for it.

When he saw Phil pursuing, Larry started on a run, but the lad,
much more fleet of foot, rapidly overhauled him, despite the
handicap that Phil had at the start.

"You may as well give up!  I'm going to catch you, if I have to
run all the way across the Sierra Nevada Range," shouted Phil.

Red halted suddenly.  Phil thought he was going to wait for him,
but the lad did not slacken his speed a bit because of that.

All at once, as Phil drew near, Red picked up a stone and hurled
it at his pursuer.  Phil saw it coming in time to "duck," and it
was well he did so, for Larry's aim was good.

"He must have been a baseball pitcher at sometime," grinned
the lad.  However, the fellow continued to throw until Phil saw
that he must do something to defend himself else he would surely
be hit and perhaps put out of the race altogether.

"So that's your game is it?" shouted the boy.  "I can
play ball, too."

With that the lad coolly began hunting about for stones, of which
he gathered up quite an armful, choosing those that were most
nearly round.  In the meantime Red had kept up his bombardment,
Phil dodging the stones skillfully.  Then he too, began to throw,
gradually drawing nearer and nearer to his adversary.

A small stone caught Phil a glancing blow on the left shoulder
causing him to drop his ammunition.  He could scarcely repress a
cry, for the blow hurt him terribly.  He wondered if his shoulder
had not been broken, but fortunately he had received only a
severe bruise.

It served, however, to stir Phil to renewed activity.
Grabbing all the stones he could gather in one sweep of his
hands he started on a run toward Red Larry, letting one drive
with every jump.  They showered around the desperate man like a
rain of hail.

All at once Larry uttered a yell of pain and anger.  One of
Phil's missiles had landed in the pit of the fellow's stomach.
Larry doubled up like a jacknife, and, dropping suddenly, rolled
rapidly toward the foot of the slope.

Phil, still clinging to his weapons, ran as fast as his slender
legs would carry him in pursuit of his man.

"I hit him!  I hit him!" he yelled.

In a moment he came up with Larry, but the lad prudently stopped
a rod from his adversary to make sure that the fellow was not
playing him a trick.  One glance sufficed to tell Phil that the
man had really been hit.

"I hope he isn't much hurt, but I'm not going to take any
chances."

Phil jerked off his coat and began ripping it up, regardless of
the fact that it was his best.  With the strands thus secured, he
approached his prisoner cautiously, then suddenly jumped on him.

Larry was not able to give more than momentary resistance.
Inside of three minutes Phil had the fellow's hands tied securely
behind his back.  Gathering the stones about him in case of need,
the lad sat down and wiped the perspiration from his brow.

"I guess that about puts an end to your tricks, my fine fellow,"
announced Phil.

The train had been finally stopped, and a force of men now dashed
back along the tracks.  They had been in time to view the last
half of the battle of the stones, and when Red went down they set
up a loud triumphant yell.  In a few minutes they had reached the
scene and had taken the prisoner in tow.

The train was at the top of the grade waiting, so the show people
and their captive were obliged to walk fully a mile to reach it.
Mr. Sparling, attracted by the uproar, had rushed from his
private car.  He now met the party a little way down the tracks.

"I got him!" cried Phil, when he saw the owner approaching.

Red was carried to the next stop on the circus train.  He was
not much hurt and had fully recovered before noon of that day,
much to Phil's relief, for he felt very badly that he had been
obliged to resort to stone throwing.  The lad would have
preferred to use his fists.  But, as the result of the capture,
Red Larry was put where he would bother circus trains no more for
some years.  He was sentenced to a long term in prison.

The Great Sparling Shows moved on, playing in a few more
towns, and, one beautiful morning drew up at the city by the
Golden Gate.  There the circus remained for a week, when the show
closed for the season.  But the lads were a long way from home,
toward which they now looked longingly.

Mr. Sparling invited them to return with him in his private car
which was to cross the continent attached to regular passenger
trains, the show proper following at its leisure.

This invitation both boys accepted gladly, and during the trip
there were many long discussions between the three as to the
future of the Circus Boys.  They had worked hard during the
season and had won new laurels on the tanbark.  But they had not
yet reached the pinnacle of their success in the canvas-covered
arena, though each had saved, as the result of his season's work,
nearly twelve hundred dollars.

Phil and Teddy will be heard from again in a following volume
entitled: "THE CIRCUS BOYS IN DIXIE LAND; Or, Winning the
Plaudits of the Sunny South."  Here they are destined to meet
with some of the pleasantest as well as the most thrilling
experiences of their circus career, in which both have many
opportunities to show their grit and resourcefulness.





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