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

Chapter 22. New Acquaintances

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Sunday was of course a day of rest for the circus employees. Most of them observed it by lying in bed unusually late. Kit, however, rose in good season, and found himself first at breakfast. When the proper time arrived, he walked to the village, and selecting the first church he came to, entered. He had always been in the habit of attending church, and felt that there was no good reason why he should give up the practice now that he was away from home.

He stood in the lobby, waiting for the sexton to appear, when a fine-looking man of middle age entered the church with a young girl of fourteen at his side.

He glanced at Kit with interest, and after a moment's pause walked up to him.

"Are you a stranger here?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," answered Kit.

"I shall be glad to have you accept a seat in my pew."

"Thank you, sir," said Kit, politely; "I was waiting for the sexton, intending to ask him for a seat."

"I have plenty of room in my pew, having only my daughter with me. Are you staying long in the town?"

"Only as long as the circus does," answered Kit.

The gentleman looked surprised.

"Are you connected with the circus?" he asked, quickly.

"Yes, sir."

By this time the young girl was examining Kit with interest and attention.

"Is it possible you are a performer?"

"Yes, sir."

"I wouldn't have dreamed it. You look like a young gentleman."

"I hope I am, sir."

"Pardon me, I meant no offense, but you don't at all answer my idea of a circus performer."

"I have only been two days with the circus," said Kit; "and that may account for my not having a circus look."

"It is time to take our seats. I will speak with you afterwards. First, however, let me introduce my daughter, Evelyn Grant."

"I am glad to make your acquaintance, Miss Evelyn," said Kit, removing his hat. "My name is Christopher Watson."

Evelyn offered her hand with a smile.

"I had no idea circus young men were so polite," she said.

There was no chance for any further conversation, as they had entered the church. Mr. Grant's pew was in a prominent position. He drew back to let the two young people enter. They seated themselves at the lower end of the pew and Mr. Grant took his seat at the head. Kit noticed that several persons in neighboring pews regarded him with apparent curiosity.

Kit enjoyed the services, which were of an interesting character. He had expected to feel like a stranger, but thanks to the kindness of Mr. Grant, he felt quite as much at home as when he sat in his uncle's pew at Smyrna.

When the services were over, they filed slowly out of church. A new surprise was in store for Kit.

"If you have no engagement we shall be glad to have you dine with us, Master Watson," said Mr. Grant.

"You will come, won't you?" said Evelyn, with a smile.

"You are very kind," said Kit, in grateful surprise. "Nothing could be more agreeable to me."

Just then a gentleman approached Mr. Grant, and said: "I am glad to see you looking so well, Mr. Mayor."

"Is your father the mayor of the city?" asked Kit.

"Yes; he was elected last December."

"I am very fortunate to be invited to dinner by the mayor."

"And by the mayor's daughter. Don't forget that."

"You may be sure I appreciate that, too."

"How funny it seems to me to be walking with a circus performer! What do you do? You don't stand upon a horse's back, and jump through hoops, do you?"

"No, I can't do that."

"But what do you do?"

"I am an acrobat."

Kit explained to her what he did.

"It must be very hard."

"Oh, no! I learned to do it in a gymnasium, before I ever dreamed of being connected with a circus."

"Where was the gymnasium?"

"Attached to Dr. Codman's academy."

"Why, I had a cousin who attended there," said Evelyn, in surprise.

"What was his name?"

"Edward Moore."

"I know him very well. He is a nice fellow."

At this moment Kit, in looking around, was surprised to see the familiar face and figure of Mr. Barlow, the circus proprietor, who had evidently, like himself, been attending the service. Recognition was mutual.

"I am glad to see you here, Watson," said Mr. Barlow, offering his hand. "I always attend church myself when I have an opportunity, but I am afraid few in my employ follow my example. I always feel more confidence in any young man who seems to enjoy a church service."

Mr. Barlow was a man whose name was widely known, and Kit saw that Mr. Grant looked as if he would like to be introduced.

"Mr. Barlow," he said, "allow me to introduce a new friend, Mr. Grant, the mayor of the town."

"I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Mayor," said the showman, offering his hand.

"The pleasure is mutual, sir," said the mayor. "I need not say that your name has long been familiar to me."

"I am glad you have taken one of my young men under your wing. He is a recent acquisition, but I have reason to think well of him."

"He is to dine with us to-day. I shall be glad to extend an invitation to you also, Mr. Barlow."

"You are very kind, and but for a previous engagement I would accept with pleasure. I shall be glad to see you at my show to-morrow with complimentary tickets."

"What a nice old gentleman Mr. Barlow is," said Evelyn, in a low voice.

"I have found him an excellent friend. He won't allow any of us to drink or gamble while we are in his employ."

"I hope you wouldn't want to do either, Mr. Watson."

"I have no disposition to do so. But, Miss Evelyn, I want to ask you a favor."

"What is it? If it isn't anything very great, I may grant it."

"Don't call me Mr. Watson."

"What shall I call you then?"

"My friends call me Kit."

"That's a nice name. Yes, I'll call you Kit."

It will be seen that the two young people were getting on famously.

"Do you live far away, Miss Evelyn?"

"About a quarter of a mile from here."

In turning the corner of a street, Kit met his friend Harry Thorne, walking with Charlie Davis. Both regarded Kit with surprise.

"Kit seems to be getting on," said Charlie. "Do you know who he is walking with?"

"No; do you?"

"With the daughter of the mayor."

"How do you know?"

"The gentleman in front was pointed out to me as the mayor. I shouldn't wonder if he were going to dine there."

When Kit returned to the circus tents about four o'clock in the afternoon, he met with some good-natured raillery which he took in good part. He felt that he had passed the day in a much more satisfactory manner than if, like the great majority of his companions, he had risen late and lounged about the circus grounds, beguiling the time with smoking and story telling. _

Read next: Chapter 23. Kit's Daring Act

Read previous: Chapter 21. Kit Meets A Schoolmate

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