THE BLAZING BANQUET
Across the wire walked the young performer, and as he walked he tossed into the air, catching them as they came down, the flaming torches. When it is remembered that the fire was of the real, blazing sort, and hot at that, also when it is recalled that if Joe happened to catch hold of the wrong end of any of the whirling torches, and when it is evident that he must “watch his step,” it will be seen that he was performing no easy feat.
Yet to watch him one would have thought that he had been doing it right along for many performances, instead of this being his first in public, though he and Ham Logan had practiced in private.
Across the wire walked Joe, juggling with fire, and when he reached the other platform he walked backward along the swaying wire.
Then the applause broke out, loud and long. The crowd appreciated the trick, with all its dangers. True, Joe Strong was an expert on the wire, and he was also a good juggler. But juggling with torches while on a swaying cable was not as easy as handling harmless rubber balls or Indian clubs, and the circus throng seemed to appreciate this.
Getting back to the platform whence he had started, Joe dropped the still blazing torches into a tub of water where they went out hissingly. This provided a fitting climax to the act, as showing that the flames were real ones.
And then Joe donned his cap of leather, with the little grooved wheels fastened in the top, and on his head he slid down the slanting wire through the blazing hoops. It was a good end to a good trick; and the crowd went wild.
“Well, Joe, you sure did put another one over for us,” said Jim Tracy, at the conclusion of the performance. “That fire juggling was a great trick. That’s the sensation you promised us, I suppose.”
“No, it isn’t,” was the answer. “I’m not ready for that yet. But I’m glad you liked the trick. No, what I have up my sleeve is something even better, I think.”
“Well, I hope you haven’t any blazing torches up your sleeve,” remarked Helen, with a laugh. “You’ll need a new coat, if you have.”
“No danger,” laughed Joe. “I think I’ll be ready soon. By the way, any news of the bogus tickets—I mean the detectives haven’t found out anything positive, have they?”
“Not yet,” answered Mr. Moyne, who had joined the little party. “And it’s keeping all of us who have to do with the financial end guessing as to where the trouble will break out next.”
“It is an unpleasant state of affairs,” agreed Joe. “But I don’t see what we can do except to wait. You haven’t noticed any more of the counterfeit tickets of late, have you?”
“No,” answered the treasurer. “It’s only when we hit the big mill cities that they are worked in on us. That’s why I believe there is some system to it all.”