Chapter 17




KIT'S STRATAGEM.

Kit, when dressed, sought the part of the house where he knew that William Morris was seated.

"How did I do, Will?" he asked.

"Splendidly!" answered the boy enthusiastically. "I felt proud of you."

"I think I have a right to be satisfied myself. I have had my pay raised."

"You don't mean to say you are to get more than ten dollars?" said his friend, opening his eyes in amazement.

"I am raised to twenty-five."

"You don't mean to say you are to get twenty-five dollars a week, Kit?"

"Yes, I do."

"And your board?"

"And my board and traveling expenses," added Kit, with a smile.

"I wish I were in your shoes, Kit," said William. "Think of me with only one dollar a week."

"Would you be willing to go through my acts for the money I am going to receive?"

William shook his head.

"I couldn't do it, Kit," he replied. "It always makes me dizzy when I have my head down. I don't believe I could ever do anything in a circus."

"Well, William, I won't forget you. If I save money, as I am sure to do, I'll see if I can't do something for you by and by. By the way, did you see Mr. and Mrs. Bickford?"

"No, you don't mean to say they are here?"

"Look over there!"

William followed the direction of Kit's finger, and he easily discovered the blacksmith and his wife.

"By gracious! You're right!" he said. "It's the first money I've known old Bickford to pay for any amusement for years."

"They came after me, William."

"You won't go back with them?"

"Not much. I don't care to give up twenty-five dollars a week for the privilege of learning the trade of a blacksmith."

"Suppose they try to carry you off?"

"That gives me an idea. With your help I'll try to play a trick on them. It'll be capital fun."

"Go ahead and tell me what it is, Kit. I'm with you!"

"My plan is that you should ride home with Mr. Bickford," said Kit.

"I don't understand," said William, looking puzzled.

"I'll tell you my idea. Bickford has come here with the intention of taking me back with him to Oakford."

"But you don't mean to go?"

"Of course not, but when the show is over I shall put myself in his way, and after a little objection agree to go. I will ask for five minutes to get ready. In that time I will change hats with you, and as it is dark you can easily pass yourself off for me."

"Capital!" exclaimed William, laughing. "Won't the old man look foolish when he finds out who is with him?"

"Don't let him know till you arrive, or he would force you to leave the carriage, and walk home alone, and a six mile walk is no joke."

"All right Kit! I understand, and I think I can carry out your idea. I haven't much love for the old man or his wife either, and I am glad of a chance to get even with them."

The performance continued till ten o'clock. The blacksmith and his wife enjoyed it beyond their anticipations. Amusements of any kind were new to them, and their pleasure was like that of children.

"I begin to think, Sarah, we shall get our money's worth," said Aaron cautiously, as the entertainment neared its end; "this is a great show."

"So it is, Aaron. I don't begrudge the money myself, though fifty cents is a pretty high price to pay. Then, besides, you'll have a chance to carry the boy home."

"That's so, Sarah. Just as soon as the show is over, foller me, and we'll try to find him."

At length the last act was ended, and the crowd of spectators began pouring from the tent.

Mr. Bickford hurriedly emerged from the audience, and began to look around for Kit. He had but little trouble in finding him, for the boy purposely put himself in his way. Aaron Bickford strode up to him.

"Well, I've caught you at last!" he said, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder.

"What do you want of me, Mr. Bickford?" said Kit.

"What do I want of you? Well, I want you to go home with me, of course."

"Won't you let me stay with the circus a week?" asked Kit, in a subdued tone.

"No, I won't. I've got the wagon here, and I'm goin' to take you back with me to-night."

"If you really think my uncle wishes it, perhaps I had better go," said Kit, in what appeared to be a wavering tone.

Mr. Bickford was quite elated. He feared he should have trouble in persuading Kit to accompany him. He would not have been surprised if the boy had disappeared, and given him trouble to find him, and his unexpected submissiveness was an agreeable surprise.

"Well, boy, it's time to be goin'. Oakford's six miles off, and we won't get home before midnight unless we start right off."

"I'll go and get my things, Mr. Bickford. Where is your horse and wagon?"

"Out by the entrance. It's hitched to a tree."

"All right! You go and unhitch the horse, and I'll be right along."

"But suppose you give me the slip? You'd better go along now."

"I'll bring him with me, Mr. Bickford," said the giant. "I'm sorry he isn't going to stay with us, and I'll see him off."

Achilles Henderson spoke in so straightforward a manner that Mr. Bickford was deceived.

"Very well," he said. "I'll go along with Mrs. Bickford. Don't keep me waitin', for it's gettin' late."

The blacksmith and his wife took up their march to the place where their team had been hitched. They found it safe, and untied the horse.

"We're goin' to have a dark ride home, mother," he said.

"Yes, Aaron, but you've done a good evening's work."

"That's so, Sarah. I expected I'd have more trouble with the boy."

"There's nothing like being firm, Aaron. When he saw you were in earnest, he gave up."

"I mean to keep a tight rein on him, Sarah. He's a boy that likes to have his own way, if I ain't greatly mistaken. We must break his will."

The horse was unhitched, and still Kit had not arrived. Mr. Bickford began to fear that he had been tricked after all, when two figures, contrasting strongly with each other, appeared. One was the giant, in his ample height, and the other was a boy.

"There they are, Aaron!" said Mrs. Bickford, who was the first to descry the oddly assorted pair.

"Where is the boy to sit?" asked Achilles.

"In the back seat. Mother and I will sit in front."

"All right! There you are!" said Mr. Henderson, lifting the boy in his arms, as easily as if he were a kitten, and putting him on the rear seat.

"Good-by, Kit!" he said. "I'm sorry you're going to leave us. Perhaps Mr. Bickford will let you off if we show anywhere near here."

"The boy will be at work, and can't be let off," said the blacksmith, stiffly. "But it is time we were off."

"Good-by, then, Kit!"

"Good-by!" said the supposed Kit, in a low tone, for he feared that the difference in his voice would be recognized. But Mr. Bickford had no suspicions. He was anxious to get started, for he and his wife were always in bed by this time ordinarily.

So the team started, and Achilles Henderson, suppressing a laugh, strode away to the circus cars, which were already being prepared for a midnight journey to the next place. It may be explained here that the circus of to-day generally owns its own cars, which are used for the conveyance of all connected with it, their luggage, the tents, the animals, and all the paraphernalia of the show. As soon as the show is ended, the canvas men set to work to take down and fold up the tents. All the freight is conveyed to the cars, and the razorbacks, already referred to, set about loading them. The performers, ticketmen, and candy butchers seek their berths in the sleeping cars and are often in the land of dreams before the train starts.

While Mr. Bickford was driving in the darkness to Oakford with the supposed Kit on the back seat, the real Kit was in his berth in the circus cars, preparing for a refreshing night's rest.



Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Email:
Sonnet-a-Day Newsletter
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.
Email: