The Circus Boys On the Mississippi by Edgar B. P. Darlington
Chapter IX. Phil Forrest to the Rescue
"Catch Teddy! Catch him!" shouted Mr. Sparling.
"The boy has gone into the river!" cried half a dozen voices at once.
"No; the bull threw him toward the boat. He may have shot right on over and into the water or he may still be on the upper deck," answered Mr. Kennedy, as he plied his prod industriously, shouting his orders to the other elephants that already were showing signs of restlessness.
By this time a boat had been launched from the dock, and half a dozen men had gone in search of the lost gangway that was now floating slowly down the river some distance away.
"Ahoy, boat!" bellowed Mr. Sparling. "Row around to the other side and see if Tucker is in the river."
At the same time the owner of the show was running toward the "Marie." He plunged into the mass of equipment on the lower deck, lost his footing and went rolling under a lion's cage. He was on his feet and bounding up the stairs almost in the next second.
Just as he reached the upper deck he met Phil Forrest emerging from the cabin, attracted by the uproar.
"What's the matter, sir?"
"Teddy," answered the showman shortly.
"Oh, that boy again! What is it?"
"Jupiter tossed him."
"Where is he?"
"Maybe in the river. Help me look for him up here. They are searching for him on the other side of the boat."
Phil started on a run along one side of the deck, Mr. Sparling taking the other side.
"Here he is. Ahoy, boat! Go and get the gangway. I have the boy here," called Mr. Sparling.
Phil hurried over to where Mr. Sparling was bending over Teddy, who lay doubled up against the pilot house.
"Is he hurt?"
"I don't know. I'll tell you when I get him untangled. He seems to be standing on his head. Lucky if his neck isn't broken."
"Teddy's neck is too tough to be easily broken. I think he is merely stunned," said Phil.
The showman straightened the Circus Boy out, and Teddy suddenly sat up, rubbing his head and neck gingerly.
"Did January kick me?" he demanded wonderingly.
"No; Jupiter threw you up here. Are you hurt?"
"I'm worse than that. I'm like the carpenter who swallowed a tape measure. I'm dying by inches."
Mr. Sparling uttered an impatient exclamation.
"Take care of him, Phil. I must get back. There is trouble down there."
The showman hurried away, and Phil saw at once that his companion had sustained a severe shock, but nothing of a serious nature.
"You're all right, Teddy. What is the trouble down there?"
Teddy, still rubbing himself, explained what had happened.
Just then there came a call from below.
"Can you come down here?"
"Of course. What is it?"
"Mr. Sparling wants you."
"I'll be right there."
The lad, instead of taking the time to go down the companionway, swung over the side of the boat and dropped lightly to the wharf. Such is the advantage of being a showman.
"Mr. Kennedy is having trouble with the bulls, Phil," explained Mr. Sparling.
"Yes; so Teddy told me."
"He thinks you may be able to suggest some way out of our difficulty. Mr. Kennedy has great confidence in your resourcefulness."
"What have you done thus far?"
Mr. Sparling explained briefly, Phil giving close attention.
"Have they found the gangplank yet?"
"Yes; they are towing it up to the dock now."
Phil waited until they had hauled the gangway up and put it in place.
"Will you try her, so that I can see how she works, Mr. Kennedy?" asked the lad after the gangway had been chained down so securely that the elephant would have difficulty in ripping it loose.
Jupiter was just as stubborn as he had been before. Phil observed three or four showmen standing near him on the other side.
"Please step back, all of you," he said. "Mr. Sparling, will you see that no one comes near the elephants? I'll see what I can do. Back him off, Mr. Kennedy."
This done, Phil stepped back along the line until he came to the big elephant Emperor.
"Good old Emperor," cried the Circus Boy soothingly. "Here's a lump of sugar."
Emperor tucked the sugar far back in his pink mouth. Then Phil, taking hold of the trunk, petted it affectionately, next tucking it under his arm.
"Come along, old fellow. You need not be afraid," he said, starting toward the ship, with Emperor following meekly and obediently. At the gangway he stopped and examined the passageway carefully.
"Are you sure it is strong enough to support them, Mr. Kennedy?"
"Yes, it will hold two at once."
Once more Phil took hold of the trunk and led Emperor across and into the boat, the elephant making no protest; though, knowing him as he did, Phil saw that the animal was timid. The beast's confidence in the little Circus Boy overcame his fears, however.
Emperor got another lump of sugar as the result of his obedience.
"See if Jupiter will follow," called Phil.
Jupiter would not.
Observing this, Phil swung Emperor around and led him to the dock.
"What are you going to do?" asked Mr. Sparling.
"Perhaps nothing at all. If Mr. Kennedy failed I do not see how I shall be able to accomplish anything. Get Jupiter up to the gangway, please."
This was done.
"When I say the word, you give Jupiter the hook good and hard and quick. I'll promise you that something will happen. See here; didn't I tell you fellows to keep away from those elephants?" demanded the boy, observing two figures edging up toward Emperor.
"Clear the dock!" roared Mr. Sparling.
A sudden thought seemed to strike Phil. He left Emperor and stepped around to the other side of the animal walking about and peering into the faces of the people who now were standing back at a respectful distance. Most of them proved to be villagers, with a few circus people sprinkled among them.
"Did you notice who those two men were who were standing on the other side, Mr. Sparling?" he asked in a low tone.
"I wanted to know."
"Why do you ask that question?"
"Because I am suspicious of them, that's all."
Making sure that the dock was clear, Phil led Emperor up to Jupiter, placing the former's head against the hips of the stubborn elephant.
"Now!" he shouted, at the same time giving Emperor the signal to push.
The big elephant threw all his great strength into a forward movement. Jupiter, taken off his guard, plunged across the gangplank, with Emperor pushing him along, the former trumpeting wildly in his fear and rage. Another minute, and Jupiter was landed safely on the lower deck of the "Fat Marie."