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

Chapter 21. Kit Meets A Schoolmate

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Kit slept profoundly, being very tired. He was taken by surprise when, the next morning, he was shaken into a state of wakefulness, and opening his eyes met those of his neighbor Harry Thorne.

"Is it morning?" he asked, in a sleepy tone.

"I should say it was. It is a quarter after nine, and the parade starts at ten."

"The parade?"

"Yes; we give a morning parade in every place we visit. If you are not on hand to take part in it, you will be fined five dollars."

"I'll be up in a jiffy," said Kit, springing out of his berth. "But there's time enough, isn't there?"

"Yes; but not too much. You will want to get some breakfast. By the way, are you used to driving?"

"Oh, yes. I have done a good deal of it," answered Kit.

"I thought so, as you are a country boy. How would you like to drive a span of horses attached to one of the small chariots?"

Kit was extremely fond of a horse, and he answered promptly, "I'll do it."

"There are two. The other is driven by Charlie Davis, once a performer but now a ticket man. He is a little older than you."

"All right! I don't see how I came to sleep so late."

"You and Charlie are good matches. Once he went to bed Saturday night, and did not wake up till Monday morning."

"That beats my record!"

Kit was dressed in less than ten minutes.

"Where shall I get breakfast?" he asked.

"The regular breakfast is over, and you will have to buy some. There is a restaurant just opposite the lot. You might get in with one of the cooks, and get something in the cook tent."

"No; I'll go to the restaurant. To-morrow I'll be on hand at the regular breakfast."

The restaurant was a small one, with no pretensions to style, but Kit was hungry and not particular. At the same table there was a dark complexioned boy of about his own size, who had just begun to dispatch a beefsteak.

He looked up as Kit seated himself.

"You're the new acrobat, are you not?" asked the other.

"Yes; are you Charlie Davis?"

"Yes; how do you know me?"

"Harry Thorne was speaking of you."

"I see you're one of the late birds as well as I. I generally have to buy my breakfast outside. How do you like circus life?"

"I haven't tried it well enough to tell. This is only my second day."

"I went into it at fourteen. I've been an acrobat, too, but I have a weak ankle, and have gone into the ticket department."

"Are you going to remain in the circus permanently?"

"No, I'm trying to wean myself from it. A friend has promised to set me up in business whenever I get ready to retire. If I kept on, I would be no better off at forty than I am now."

"Yet circus people make a good deal of money, I hear."

"Right you are, my boy, but they don't keep it. They get spoiled for anything else, and soon or later they are left out in the cold. I've had a good deal of fun out of it, for I like traveling, but I'm going to give it up."

"I took it up because I had nothing else to do, but I shan't stay in it long. I'll tell you about it some day. I hear you drive one of the pony chariots."


"I am to drive the other."

"Good! Don't let them run away with you, my boy."

"I'll try not to," said Kit, smiling. "Is there any danger?"

"Not much. They're trained. Are you fond of horses?"

"I like nothing better."

"So it is with me. I'll wait till you are through breakfast, and then we'll go over together."

Half an hour later Kit sat on the box of a chariot, drawn by two beautiful ponies. The circus line had been formed, and the parade began. Behind him was a circus wagon, or rather a cage on wheels, through the gratings of which could be seen a tiger, crafty and cruel looking. In front was an elephant, with two or three performers on his back. Kit was dressed in street costume, his circus dress not being required.

In another part of the procession was Charlie Davis, driving a corresponding wagon.

Kit felt a peculiar exhilaration as he drove his ponies, and reflected upon the strangeness of his position, as compared with his previous experiences. He had from time to time watched circus processions, but not in his wildest and most improbable dreams had it ever occurred to him to imagine that he would ever himself take part in one. As he looked down from his perch he saw the streets lined with the usual curious crowd of spectators, among whom boys were largely represented.

"I suppose some of them are envying me," he thought to himself, with a smile. "Suppose there was some one who recognized me?"

No sooner had the thought come into his mind, than he heard his own name called in a voice indicating amazement.

"Kit Watson, by all that's wonderful!" were the words that fell on his ears.

Looking to the right, his glance fell upon Jack Dormer, a schoolmate, who had been attending the same academy with him for a year past.

Kit colored, feeling a little embarrassed.

"How are you, Jack?" he said.

"How came you in this circus procession, Kit?"

"I can't tell you now. Come round to the lot, after the parade is over, and I'll tell you all about it."

Jack availed himself of the invitation and presented himself at the circus grounds.

"What does it all mean, Kit?" he asked. "Have you really and truly joined the circus?"

"Come round this afternoon, and you'll see me perform. I am one of the Vincenti brothers, acrobats."

"But what put it in your head? That's what I want to know?"

"I thought I would like it better than being a blacksmith."

"But who ever dreamed of your being a blacksmith?"

"My uncle did. I'll tell you all about it."

Kit told his story. Jack Dormer listened with sympathetic interest.

"Do they pay you well?" he asked.

"I get twenty-five dollars a week, and all expenses."

"Can you get me a job?" asked Jack quite overcome by the magnificence of the salary.

"As an acrobat, Jack?" asked Kit, laughing, for Jack had the reputation of being one of the clumsiest boys in school.

"Well, no, I don't suppose I could do much in that way, but isn't there something I could do?"

"Take my advice, Jack, and give it up. You've got a good home, and there is no need of your going into any such business even if you were qualified."

"Don't you like it?"

"I can't tell yet. Of course it is exciting, but those who have been in it a good while advise against it. I may not stay in it more than one season."

"Shall I tell the fellows at school where you are?"

"No, I would rather you wouldn't."

"Does your cousin Ralph come back to school?"


"We could spare him a good deal better than you."

"I am not fond of Ralph myself, but the world is wide enough for us both."

Kit saw his schoolmate again after the afternoon performance, and received many compliments.

"I couldn't believe it was you," he said. "You acted as if you were an old hand at the business." _

Read next: Chapter 22. New Acquaintances

Read previous: Chapter 20. A Chat With A Candy Butcher

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