They all got out of the tent finally, and then the managers had a meeting to find out who started the trouble, and what it was best to do about it. I was sitting alone on a front seat, thinking over the scenes of the afternoon, and wondering what the young senator’s son would do with the money he had won of me, and whether he had depopulated the white house of rats and mice, so the president would notice it. I was thinking about elephants and wondering if they were cowards by nature, or had acquired cowardice by associating with mankind, when pa came along and sat down by me, a picture of despair, ’cause Bolivar had fractured one of his ribs, and the fat woman had paralyzed his knees sitting on his lap while they brought her to after she fainted when she thought a rat was climbing into her sock.
Pa sighed, and said: “Hennery, I wanted an exciting life, to keep me from brooding over advancing age, and I chose the circus business, but I find it is rather too strenuous for me. Each day something occurs to try my nerves. I do not claim that you are to blame for it all, but I think I could enjoy my position with the show if you would take the first train that goes north, and leave me for awhile. What I need is rest. Go, boy, go!”
I felt sorry far pa, but I put my arm around him, and I said: “Pa, do not fear. I will never desert you, until the season is over. Wherever you go, I will go, and I will keep you awake, don’t fear. Now that we are going into the sunny south, where every man may have it in for you, ’cause you were a Yankee soldier, I will stay by you, and there will be things doing that will make you think the past has been a sweet dream. See, pa!”
[Illustration: “Pa, Do Not Fear.”]
Pa sighed again, and said: “This is too much!” and he rushed off to find the elephants.
The Bad Boy and the Senator’s
Son Go on an Elephant Chase—The
Senator’s Son Gets His Friend a Bid to Dinner at the White
House—The Trained Seal Swallows an Alarm Clock.
The show remained in Washington two days, ’cause it took all one day and night to catch the elephants, after the senator’s boy and I turned the rats and mice loose in the ring while the elephants were forming a pyramid. Pa and all the circus hands had to go away down towards the Bull Run battlefield to round them up, and young Mr. Senator let me ride one of his ponies and he and I went along to help catch the elephants.
We went out through Alexandria towards Bull Run battlefield. There we overtook pa and the boss canvasman and the elephant handler, and we met some farmers coming into Alexandria with their families, stampeding like people out west when the Indians go on the warpath. They had got up in the morning to milk the cows and found about 20 elephants in the barnyard, making the cows do a song and dance. Pa told them there was no danger at all, ’cause he would take any elephant by the tail and snap its head off, like boys snap the heads off garter snakes, and I told them that me and the senator’s boy stampeded the elephants and we could drive them back to town like a drove of sheep.