Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Horatio Alger > Young Acrobat of the Great North American Circus > This page

The Young Acrobat of the Great North American Circus, a fiction by Horatio Alger

Chapter 3. Kit Astonishes Two Acrobats

< Previous
Table of content
Next >

The circus tent was nearly ready for the regular performance. Kit and Dan regarded the sawdust arena with the interest which it always inspires in boys of sixteen. Already it was invested with fascination for them. Two acrobats who performed what is called the "brothers' act" were rehearsing. They were placarded as the Vincenti brothers, though one was a French Canadian and the other an Irishman, and there was no relationship between them. At the time the boys entered, one had climbed upon the other's shoulders, and was standing erect with folded arms. This was, of course, easy, but the next act was more difficult. By a quick movement he lowered his head, and grasping the uplifted hands of the lower acrobat, raised his feet and poised himself aloft, with his feet up in the air, sustained by the muscular arms of his associate.

"That must take strength, Kit," said Dan.

"So it does."

"No one but a circus man could do it, I suppose?"

"I can do it," said Kit quietly.

Dan regarded him with undisguised astonishment.

"You are joking," he said.

"No, I am not."

"Where did you learn to do such a thing?" asked Dan, incredulous, though he knew Kit to be a boy of truth.

"I will tell you. In the town where I attended boarding school there is a large gymnasium, under the superintendence of a man who traveled for years with a circus. He used to give lessons to the boys, but most contented themselves with a few common exercises. I suppose I should also, but there was an English boy in the school, very supple and muscular, who was proud of his strength, and ambitious to make himself a thorough gymnast. He persuaded me to take lessons in the most difficult acrobatic feats with him, as two had to work together."

"Did you pay the professor extra to instruct you?" asked Dan.

"He charged nothing. He was only too glad to teach us all he knew. It seems he was at one time connected with Barnum's circus, and prepared performers for the arena. He told us it made him think of his old circus days to teach us. At the close of last term we gave him five dollars apiece as an acknowledgment of his services. He assured us then that we were competent to perform in any circus."

"Could you really do what the Vincenti brothers are doing?"

"Yes; and more."

"I wish I could see you do it."

The boys were seated near the sawdust arena, and the last part of their conversation had been heard by the acrobats. It was taken as an illustration of boyish braggadocio, and as circus men are always ready for practical jokes, particularly at the expense of greenhorns, they resolved that there was a good chance for a little fun.

One tipped the wink to the other, and turning to Kit, said: "What's that you're saying, kid?"

"How does he know your name?" said Dan, mistaking kid, the circus name for boy, for his friend's nickname.

"He said kid, not Kit," answered our hero.

"Do you think you can do our act?" continued the acrobat.

"I think I can," replied Kit.

This elicited a broad grin from the acrobat.

"Look here, kid," he said, "do you know how long it took me to learn the business?"

"I don't know, but I should like to know."

"Three years."

"No doubt you can do a great deal more than I."

"Oh, no, certainly not!" said the acrobat, ironically.

"I see you don't believe me," said Kit.

"I'll tell you what you remind me of, kid. There was a fellow came to our circus last summer, and wanted to get an engagement as rider. He said he'd been a cowboy out in New Mexico, and had been employed to break horses. So we gave the fellow a trial. We brought out a wild mustang, and told him to show what he could do. The mustang let him get on, as was his custom, but after he was fairly on, he gave a jump, and Mr. Cowboy measured his length on the sawdust."

Kit and Dan both smiled at this story.

"I am not a cowboy, and don't profess to ride bucking mustangs," he said, "though my friend Dan may."

"I'd rather be excused," put in Dan.

"I'll tell you what, kid, if you'll go through the performance you've just seen I'll give you five dollars."

The fellow expected Kit would make some hasty excuse, but he was mistaken. Our hero rose from his seat, removed his coat and vest, and bounded into the arena.

"I am ready," he said, "but I am not strong enough to be the under man. I'll do the other."

"All right! Go ahead!"

The speaker put himself in position. Kit gave a spring, and in an instant was upon his shoulders.

There was an exclamation of surprise from the second acrobat.

"Christopher!" he exclaimed. "The boy's got something in him, after all."

"Now what shall I do?" asked Kit, as with folded arms he stood on the acrobat's shoulders.

"Keep your place while I walk round the arena."

Kit maintained his position while the acrobat ran round the circle, increasing his pace on purpose to dislodge his young associate. But Kit was too well used to this act to be embarrassed. He held himself erect, and never swerved for an instant.

"Pretty good, kid!" said the acrobat. "Now reverse yourself and stand on my hands with your feet in the air."

Kit made the change skillfully, and to the equal surprise of Dan and the other acrobat, both of whom applauded without stint.

"Can you do anything else?" asked Alonzo Vincenti.


Kit went through a variety of other feats, and then descending from his elevated perch, was about to resume his coat and vest, when the circus performer asked him, "Can you tumble?"

Kit's answer was to roll over the arena in a succession of somersaults and hand springs.

"Well, I'm beat!" said the acrobat. "You're the smartest kid I ever met in my travels. Are you sure you're not a professional?"

"Quite sure," answered Kit, smiling.

"You never traveled with a show, then?"

Kit shook his head.

"Where on earth did you pick up all these acts?"

"I took lessons of Professor Donaldson."

"You did! Well, that explains it. I say, kid, you ought to join a circus. You'd command a fine salary."

"Would I? How much could I get?" asked Kit, with interest.

"Ten or twelve dollars a week and all expenses paid. That's pretty good pay for a kid, isn't it?"

"It's more than I ever earned yet," answered Kit, with a smile.

"I shouldn't wonder if Mr. Barlow would give you that now. If you ever make up your mind to join a show, come round and see him."

"Thank you," said Kit.

Soon after the boys left the circus lot and went home.

"Would you really join a circus, Kit?" asked Dan.

"It isn't the life I would choose," answered Kit, seriously, "but I may have to find some way of earning a living, and that very soon."

"I thought your father left you a fortune."

"So did I; but I hear that I am to be taken from boarding school, and possibly set to work. Ralph has given me a hint of it. I shall soon know, as my uncle intimates that he has a communication to make me."

"I hope it isn't as bad as you think, Kit."

"I hope so too, but I can tell you better to-morrow. We will meet to-night at the show." _

Read next: Chapter 4. A Scene Not Down On The Bills

Read previous: Chapter 2. Introduces Three Curiosities

Table of content of Young Acrobat of the Great North American Circus


Post your review
Your review will be placed after the table of content of this book