Chapter XIV. Fun at the Show
 

As soon as the family were assembled and Fred had been greeted all around, Sam told of what had happened since he had started out to have his hair cut.

"Well, you've had your share of happenings," declared Mrs. Rover. "It is a wonder you are alive to tell of them."

"We ought to go after Lew Flapp," said Dick. "He ought to be arrested by all means."

"Yes, but where are you going to look for him?"

"Perhaps he will take the late train to-night from Oak Run."

"That's an idea," came from Tom. "Let us watch the train."

This was decided upon, and he and Dick, accompanied by their father, went to Oak Run that evening for that purpose. But Lew Flapp and Dan Baxter took the train from a station three miles away, so the quest was unsuccessful.

"I guess he didn't let the grass grow under his feet," said Sam, the next morning. "No doubt he was badly scared."

"What could he have been doing in this neighborhood?" asked Dick.

"I give it up."

During the day Sam got his hair cut and also returned the clothing loaned to him by the cemetery keeper's daughter. While in Oak Run he met the fellow who was distributing circus bills.

"You want to be more careful when distributing bills," said he to the man.

"What's the matter with you?" growled the circus agent.

"You scared my horse yesterday and made him run away."

"Oh, go tumble over yourself," growled the fellow, and turned away.

The manner of the man angered Sam, and likewise angered Tom, who happened to be along.

"Some of those circus chaps think they own the earth," was Tom's comment. "I've a good mind to go to his old circus and have some fun with the outfit."

"Just the thing, Tom! Let us ask the others to go too. I haven't seen a circus in a long time."

"Well, this won't be much to look at. But we may get some fun out of it," added Tom, with a sly wink.

"Yes, there is sure to be fun when you are around," added his younger brother, with a laugh.

When the circus was mentioned at home Dick said he would be glad to go and so did Fred.

"It is Frozzler's Grand Aggregation of Attractions," said Tom, looking over one of the showbills. "The Most Stupendous Exhibition on Earth. Daring bareback riding, trained elephants and a peanut-eating contest, likewise an egg-hunting raffle. All for a quarter, twenty-five cents."

"What is an egg-hunting raffle?" questioned Fred.

"He's fooling you, Fred," answered Sam. "You mustn't believe all Tom says."

"Thus doth mine own flesh go back on me," came from Tom, with an injured look. "Never mind, it is put and carried that we go and see Frozzler's outfit, occupying reserved orchestra chairs, close to the family circle and adjoining the second gallery west."

As soon as it was settled Tom and Sam laid their heads together to have all the fun they could at the circus, "just to get square with that agent," as Sam expressed it.

None of the older folks wanted to go, for which the boys were thankful.

"Say, I'd like to see dat show, Tom," said Aleck Pop, when he got the chance. "Ain't seen no circuses since I was a little boy."

"Then you must go by all means, Aleck. But don't you get too close to the monkey cage."

"Why not, Tom?"

"They might take you for a long-lost brother."

"Yah! yah! Dat's one on me!" Aleck showed his ivories in a broad grin. "Maybe da will take yo' for a long-lost brudder, too--yo' is so full ob monkey shines," and then Tom had to laugh at the sally.

At the proper time the four boys drove over to the circus grounds, taking Aleck Pop with them. Aleck was arrayed in his best, and from his broad expanse of shirt bosom sparkled an imitation diamond which looked like a small electric light.

Tickets were procured for all by Dick, and the boys and the servant pressed their way into the first of the tents, in company with one of the largest crowds ever gathered in that vicinity.

Now, as it happened, Frozzler's Grand Aggregation of Attractions was largely so only in name. Frozzler was himself the man who had given out the showbills, his regular agent having refused to work because his salary had remained unpaid for three weeks. The circus was fast going to pieces.

"Here is where I am going to make a bunch of money," said Frozzler to himself, as he saw the crowd coming in. "This day will put me on my feet again." But he never saw the "bunch" of money in question, for before the show was over a sheriff came along and levied on the receipts, in behalf of several tradespeople and some performers.

The exhibition was held in two tents, one for the wild animals and the other for the ring performance. The wild animals were in exactly eight wagon cages and consisted of a sickly-looking lion, a half-starved tiger, several raccoons, two foxes, a small bear, and about a dozen monkeys. There were also two elephants, one so old he was blind and could hardly stand.

"Well, this is a sell, if ever there was one," murmured Tom, after looking into the various cages.

"I feel like going out to the butcher shop and buying something with which to feed that tiger," answered Dick. "He looks as if he hadn't had a square meal for a week."

"I'm going to give the monkeys some peanuts, that's the best I can do for them," put in Sam.

"If the ring show isn't better than this we are stuck sure," was Fred's comment.

"Hullo, there's that handbill man now," cried Tom, as Giles Frozzler came into the tent. "Won't he laugh when he sees how Sam and Fred have been stuck?"

Two of the circus employees were near by and from their talk Fred learned that the showbill man was the proprietor of the circus.

"He certainly must be a one-horse fellow, or he wouldn't be throwing out his own showbills," said Sam, on hearing this.

Frozzler wore a soft hat, and as he stood near the monkey cage Tom threw some peanuts into the crown of the head covering.

Instantly the monkeys crowded forward. One seized a peanut and another, to get the rest of the nuts, caught hold of the hat and pulled it into the cage.

"Hi! give me my hat!" roared Giles Frozzler, and put his hand into the cage to get the article in question.

The monkeys thought he had more peanuts and, being half starved, they grabbed his hand and pulled it this way and that, while one gave the man a severe nip.

"Oh! oh!" screamed the circus man. "Let go my hand, you pesky rascal!"

"Hullo, dat monkey am got a limb dat don't belong to no tree," sang out Aleck.

"You shut your mouth!" growled Frozzler "Hi! give me my hat!" he went on to the monkeys. But the animals paid no attention to him. They ate up the peanuts as fast as they could and then one began an investigation by pulling the band from the hat.

The head covering was a new one, purchased but two days before, and to see it being destroyed made Giles Frozzler frantic.

"Give me that, you rascals!" he roared, and began to poke at the monkeys with a sharp stick. But two of them caught the stick and, watching their chance, jerked it away from him.

"Hurrah! score one for the monks!" sang out Tom, and this made the crowd laugh.

"If you don't shut up I'll have you put out," came angrily from Giles Frozzler.

"Why don't you buy hats for the pool' dear monkeys?" went on Tom. "Then they wouldn't want yours."

"Oh, you keep quiet!"

"Those monkeys are about starved," said Sam. "Let us get up a subscription for their benefit. I don't believe they have had a square meal in a year."

"All of the animals look starved," said Dick, loudly.

"Dat am a fac'," added Aleck.

"This is a bum show," cried a burly farmer boy standing close by. "Why, they have more animals nor this in a dime museum."

"Will you fellows shut up?" cried Giles Frozzler. "This show is all right."

"Of course you'd say so--you're the feller wot put out them bills," said the burly country boy.

"If you don't like the show you can get out."

"All right, Mr. Billman, give me back my quarter."

"Yes, give me my quarter and I'll go too," put in one of the shopkeepers of Oak Run.

"And so will I go," added a woman.

"Me, too," came in a voice from the rear of the crowd.

"Oh, you people make me tired," grumbled Giles Frozzler, and then, fearing that the people would really demand their money back he sneaked off, leaving the monkeys to continue the destruction of his head covering.