The Circus Eighty Years Ago 2

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easily recognized in any case. My excitement was intense beyond
description. I think the animals of Noah's ark that had been so
strenuously advertised as an apology, or cover, for the wicked
pleasure of the circus, must have been quite feeble and moth-eaten.
There was only one elephant, and he was so languid and subdued
there could have been little thrill in the chariot race around the ring,
'freely offered to all!'

"The queer, dismal sounds from the cages of course lent an almost
frightful suggestion of jungles, and wild places and things far
away, as did the strange chokings and squawking of foreign
feathered things behind their bars. The one white bear from
Greenland fascinated me, until a voice near my elbow insisted that
it was probably a black one painted, and a sudden twinge of guilt
pierced me as the old line of that chill region, so often sung in my
chidhood, rang in my ears, -

From Greenland's icy mountains.

The highly trained animals vividly promised in the bills resulted in
a few Shetland ponies, and two superannuated monkeys full of
repulsive tricks, and in their looks fiends incarnate.

"As I said, we had missed the grand entree, but when the bareback
riders, the Ladies Francesca de Moro and Syringa del Spagna, rode
into the ring, they more than made up for our loss. Their short,
stiff, spangled skirts and pink silk tights, with dainty slippers to
match their handsome arms and necks, their red cheeks and black
hair and staring eyes filled me with delight. I had never seen
anything like them. With utter ease and grace they sat their
gorgeously caparisoned black 'Arabian steeds,' and rode slowly
around the ring of sawdust at first, as if to accustom us to their
wonder, while the ringmaster, elegantly dressed, as if to give a
dinner to the mayor in Main street to-day, curved and uncurved his
long, fancy whiplash in the air, to excite the gentle, broken-willed
horses, and recited the marvelous performances of these dazzling
creatures about to be beheld. Back and forth they rode and whirled
and danced to a music completely taking, if not classic. The drum
blared out as if to dare us all to dashing feats. Donna Syringa del
Spagna came out alone for a climax, riding quite without bridle,
standing while her horse ran at full speed, or clinging to its flowing
mane, reversing every known habit of the saddle as she leapt over
bars held high, and through hoops, till, tossing kisses and smiles to
everyone in the tent, she disappeared in the calico curtains.

"I was radiantly happy, and forgot my brother and sister at prayer-
meeting. The clown was as yet unseen. Soon a noisy applause
roused us almost to fright, and a great, gay, painted creature came
shambling into the ring. And this was a circus clown! That low,
awful thing of which I had heard hints, - and, sad to say, I was
perfectly carried away with him! He ran about the ring in a wild
fashion, imitating the pompous ringmaster with every imaginable
amusing grimace and quip. With what audacity he asked: 'Mr
Sheldon, did you ever see so many homely men as are here to-
night? But, oh, such lovely ladies! I should think you would want
to marry them all!' 'Can't you dance for them, sing for them, or do
something to please them?' suggested the fine Mr Sheldon. 'Oh,
yes, certainly, just watch me!' was the reply, and then followed
every conceivable antic and joke, ending with the old song, 'How I
loved Annie Lee!'

"Two delicate limbed tumblers then hopped from behind the
curtains into the ring to most exciting flourishes of the band,
turning somersaults and standing on their heads. Our jolly painted
friend now convulsed the people by following them in derisive
attempts to perform their agile feats. Back and forth, up and down,
here and there her flew, at least outdoing them all and fairly
astonishing to see. When some bars were placed for a display of
leaping, he flew quickly over them, under them, still a point higher,
while the band urged louder to up and on! Over