The Circus Boys On the Mississippi by Edgar B. P. Darlington
Chapter VIII. January on the Rampage
"What's the row? What's the row?" bellowed Teddy, who, bolting under a cage and, leaving his hat under the wagon, dashed out to the dock, where their vessel was moored.
The two boys saw an object leaping into the air, performing strange and grotesque antics.
"It's January!" yelled Teddy. "Whoa, January!"
But January refused to "whoa." The donkey had objected to going aboard the boat. When the workmen tried to force him, he protested vigorously, biting those in front and kicking those behind him.
"Teddy, get that fool donkey out of here or I'll throw him in the river," bawled the owner of the show.
Perhaps January understood the threat. At least he started for Mr. Sparling, snorting.
The showman ducked under a canvas wagon and climbed up the other side of it, giving his orders from the top of the wagon. He knew January. He had had business dealings with the donkey on other occasions.
"Get him out of here, I tell you!"
"Drive him in yourself," answered a groom. "I wouldn't try it for a present of the whole confounded show."
Up to this point those who had not left the dock willingly January had assisted with his ever ready hoofs, and, by the time Teddy reached the scene the donkey had kicked every man off and into the street, excepting the owner of the show himself. As already related, Mr. Sparling had seen fit to leave in haste when January directed his attention to him.
"Whoa, January!" commanded Teddy in a soothing tone.
The donkey, at sound of the Circus Boy's voice, reared and came down facing Teddy.
"Come here, you beast. Don't you know you're going to have a ride on the river? You don't know enough to know when you are well off. Come, Jany, Jany, Jany. Wow!"
January had responded with a rush. Teddy stepped aside just in time to save himself from being bowled over. But as the donkey ran by him the boy threw both arms about the animal's neck.
Then began the liveliest scrimmage that the spectators had ever witnessed. Kicking and bucking, the donkey raced from side to side, varying his performance now and then by making a dive toward the crowd, which quickly gave gangway as the people sought for safety.
"Whoa, January! I--I'll break your neck for this, hang you! Some other donkey has taught you these tricks. You never knew anything about them way back in Edmeston. You--"
Teddy was slapped against the side of the "Fat Marie."
By this time Tucker's temper was beginning to rise. His first inclination was to hit the donkey on the nose with his free hand, but he caught himself in time. He was too fond of animals, even donkeys, to strike one on the head. It was a rule too, in the Sparling shows, that any man who so far forgot himself as to strike a horse over the head closed with the show then and there.
Now Teddy thought of a new plan. He watched his opportunity. Suddenly, Teddy put his plan into operation.
It must be remembered that the Circus Boy was strong and agile, and that his work in the ring had given him added quickness.
He therefore applied the trick he had thought of; then something happened to January. The donkey struck the planking of the pier flat on his back, his feet beating the air viciously.
Teddy flopped the animal on its side, then calmly sat down on the donkey's head. He had thrown the beast as prettily as ever had a wrestler an adversary.
The Circus Boy began mopping the perspiration from his brow.
"Warm, isn't it?" he said, tilting his eyes up to where Mr. Sparling had been watching the proceedings from the top of a wagon.
"You certainly look the part. Now, what are you going to do with that fool donkey?"
"I'm going to sit on his head until I get ready to get up. Then, if somebody will lend me a whip, I'll tan his jacket to my own taste."
January uttered a loud bray.
"Well, do something," shouted a canvasman. "We can't wait all night on the gait of that donkey."
"All right; if any of you fellows think you know the inside workings of a donkey's mind better than I do, just come and lead this angelic creature on board the 'Fat Marie.'"
"No, no; we don't know anything about donkeys," came a chorus of voices. "We don't want to know anything about donkeys, either."
"Somebody bring me a bridle, then. Don't be afraid of him, he is as gentle as a lamb. You wouldn't hurt a fly, would you, dear January?"
January elevated both hind feet, narrowly missing the groom who had brought the bridle.
After some difficulty the bystanders succeeded in getting the bit between his teeth and the bridle over his head.
"Now, take tight hold of the bridle and lead him. I'll use persuasive measures at the other end," directed Teddy.
January fairly hurled himself forward, jerking the groom off his feet at once. But the man hung on stubbornly.
A moment more, and Teddy had fastened a firm grip on January's tail, not appearing to be in the least afraid of the flying hoofs that were beating a tattoo in the air.
How Teddy did twist that tail! Finally January, in sheer desperation, was forced to give ground. One leap carried him over the gangplank and into the boat. Once within, there was a repetition of the scenes enacted on the dock, except that this time it was the groom who was getting the worst of it, while Teddy sat on the gangway, howling with delight.
At last the donkey was subdued and led to the place where he was to spend the night. But they had to rope him in to prevent his kicking the other stock through the side of the boat.
Fat Marie herself came waddling along about this time, blowing like a miniature steam engine.
"Gangway! Gangway!" shrieked Marie, in a high-pitched, shrill voice.
Teddy was nearly crowded off the gangplank.
"See here, where are you going? Don't you know there's a crazy donkey in there?"
"Going to my cabin to seek sweet repose," squeaked Marie.
"What! Are you going to live on this boat?"
"That's what. If I can get up to the sky parlor where my 'boodwah' is. Come, help me up the stairs; that's a good boy, Teddy."
"I helped you once. That was enough for me. Say, Marie?"
"What is it, my lad?"
"If the boat should be wrecked in one of the terrible storms that sweep this raging river you had better grab the anchor the first thing."
"Why grab the anchor?"
"You'll sink quicker," laughed the Circus Boy, darting out to the dock and leaning against a wagon wheel.
By this time Mr. Sparling had descended from his haven of safety, and began issuing orders again.
"Get the bulls in now. No more nonsense. Teddy, you did a good job, but it took you a long time to do it."
"Yes, sir. Do you think anybody else could have done it quicker?"
"I know they could not. Where is Phil?"
"Guess he went back to his cabin after I finished off January. Going to load the elephants, did you say?"
"Aren't you afraid they will sink the boat?"
"Don't bother us now. You know we did not bother you when you were trying to get your livestock in."
"I noticed that you didn't," answered Teddy, humorously, which remark brought a shout of laughter from everyone within hearing of his voice.
Mr. Kennedy, the elephant-trainer, now ranged his charges in line, with Jupiter, the ill-tempered member of the herd, in the lead. He wanted to get Jupiter in ahead, knowing that the others would follow willingly enough after him. Emperor, the great beast that had such a warm regard for Phil, was third in the line.
"Everybody keep away and don't make a racket or they will get nervous. I expect to have a little trouble with those bulls the first time. After that they will go one board as meek as a flock of spring mutton," declared Kennedy. Teddy was close at hand. If there was any prospect of trouble or excitement he wanted to be near enough not to miss a single feature of it.
Mr. Kennedy gave the command for attention.
Each of the elephants to the rear of Jupiter stretched forth a trunk and grasped the tail of the elephant directly in front of him.
"Hip! Hip!" began Teddy.
"That will do, young man," warned Mr. Sparling.
The line moved slowly forward, Jupiter offering no objection to going where he was ordered.
Just as he reached the gangplank, however, Jupiter halted.
The elephant's trunk curled upward and a mighty trumpeting sent the villagers scurrying for places of safety.
Mr. Kennedy prodded the elephant with the sharp point of his hook. The act forced Jupiter to place one foot on the gang plank, throwing his weight upon the planking to test its stability. He felt it give ever so little beneath his feet, and quickly withdrew the foot.
Once more the prod was brought into use. Jupiter waxed angry. With a great cough, he curled his trunk about the heavy gangplank, wrenching it free from its resting place.
Raising the planking high above his head he hurled it into the river.
"Ladies and gentlemen," announced Teddy Tucker, in a loud voice, "you have witnessed a most satisfying, edifying, gratifying, ennobling, superb and sublime spectacular prelude, as our press agent would say. But, if you know what's good for you, you will now hasten to the high places, for there's going to be something doing around here in about a minute."
Teddy was no false prophet in this instance.
Strutting up to the angry Jupiter the Circus Boy slapped him playfully on the trunk.
"You bad boy. I thought January was the limit, but I have changed my mind. You--"
Suddenly Jupiter's trunk curled about the lad. The angry elephant raised the boy far above his head and hurled him up into the air as he had done with the gangway, except that he threw Teddy in another direction.