“But if the wily chip continues to elude us?” drawled Askins.
282“Eh!” gasped Reggie.
“I mean if the currie and rice refuse to come at our whistle?”
“Oah! Yeou mean if you have no money to buy food?”
“You’ve hit it,” replied the Dublin sage; “that’s the very idea.”
“Why, blawst it, me man,” shrieked Reggie, “don’t you know there’s a Friend-in-Need Society in Colombo? What do you fawncy we contribute to it for? Now 长沙桑拿网论坛社区 if you chaps don’t stop disgracing all the—”
“What’s the bloody row?” growled a voice in the darkness.
Our employer loomed up out of the night.
“Oh! That’ll be all right,” he asserted, in a soothing voice, when the controversy had been explained to him; “The tints is all up. T’night I’ll give these byes their uniforems, an’ whinever the show is goin’ on an’ the niggers can see thim, they’ll wear thim.”
“Uniforms!” cried the Englishmen. “That’s different, ye knoaw.”
“Of course,” continued Reggie, lighting a cigarette, “it will be all right with uniforms. When a man weahs a uniform, the natives think he is doing something they cawn’t do, ye knoaw, and he keeps his cawste. Oah, yes, that’ll do very nicely, Mr. Manager. We’ll be off, then,” and the pair tripped away into the night.
“Fitzgerald’s Circus” was an Australian 长沙桑拿休闲论坛 enterprise. Its personnel, from Fritz himself to the trick poodle, hailed from the little continent. In competition with the circuses of our own land this one-ring affair would have attracted small attention; but its annual circuit of Oriental cities, from Hong Kong to Bombay, was on virgin soil where the most stereotyped “act” was greeted with bursts of enthusiasm.
To us, surfeited and sophisticated beings from an unmarveling world, the sights of interest were in the amphitheater of benches rather than in the ring. The burners lighted, we dashed off to don our uniforms. These were light blue in color and richly trimmed with gold braid—things of glory above which even the bald crown of Askins and the straw-tinted thatch of the Swede inspired a deep Singhalese reverence. The designers of the garments, however, having in mind 长沙桑拿好玩的地方 durability rather than the comfort of scores of annual
wearers, had forced upon us a costume appropriate to the upper ranges of the Himalayas.
Our first uniformed duties were those of ushers, and between the appearance of the frightened vanguard of the audience and the first fanfare of the audacious “orchestra,” life moved 长沙桑拿SPA会所 with a vim. The hordes that swarmed in upon us before the barker had concluded his first appeal comprised every caste of Singhalese society. Weighty problems 283unknown to the most experienced circus man of the western world crowded themselves upon us, demanding instantaneous solution. A delegation of priests in cheese-cloth robes raised their shrill voices in protest because the space allotted them gave no room for their betel-nut boxes. Half-breeds shouted strenuous objections to being seated with 长沙桑拿spa会所 natives. Merchants refused to enter the same section with
shopkeepers. Shopkeepers were chary of pollution at the touch of scribes. Scribes cried out hoarsely at contact with laborers. Skilled workmen screamed in frenzy at every attempt to make place among them for mere coolies.
The lower the caste of the newcomer the more 长沙桑拿网 prolonged was the uproar against him, and the more vindictive his own disgust at his inferiors. The Hindu sudra, in his scanty loin-cloth, was abhorred of all, and shrank servilely behind the usher during the circuit of the tent, while each section in turn rose against him. The natives, for the most part, refused to sit as circus seats are meant to be sat on, but squatted obstinately on their heels, hugging their scrawny knees. Wily ’rickshaw runners could be kept from crawling in among the chairs only by extreme vigilance and occasional violence. Buxom brown women,
caught in the crush of humanity, ran imminent peril of being separated from their loosely-fastened skirts, and through it all native youths from the mission-schools, swarmed round us, intent on displaying their “English” by asking useless and unanswerable questions.
The 长沙桑拿都有什么服务 entrance of the European patrons, staid and pompous of demeanor, put the natives on their best behavior, and, with the appearance of the bicyclers for the first act, even the Eurasian forgot that the despised sudra sat under the same tent with him. The heterogeneous throng settled down into a motionless sea of strained, astonished faces. Fitzgerald sahib prided himself on the smooth manner in which his entertainment was run off, and to the four of us fell the task of supplying the oil to his circus machinery. The “Wonderful Cycle Whiz! Never Before Performed by Australians! Never!” once over, we had one minute to pull down the bicycle track and carry the heavily weighted sections outside the tent. While we lowered “Master Waldron’s” trapeze with one hand, we placed and held the hurdles with the other. Tables and chairs for “Hadgie Tabor’s Hand-Balancing Act!” must appear as if by magic. In breathless succession the trick ponies must be led on, the ring cleared for the performing elephant, set again for the “Astounding Jockey Act,” and cleared for the “Hungarian Horses.”
284Then “Mlle. Montgomery,” forgetting her bunion, capered into the glare of publicity in a costume that made even the tropically-clad Singhalese women gasp with envy. Most valiantly we struggled during her “Daring Equestrian Act!” to drop the streamers low on her horse’s flanks, and to strike the fair equestrienne squarely on the head with our paper hoops; not so much from a desire to charm the audience with our dexterity as to escape the sizzling comments which the fairy-like “mademoiselle” flung back in snarling sotto voce at each blunderer.
Away with hoops and ribbons! Properties for the clown act! On the heels of the fools came that “Mighty Demonstration of Man’s Power over FEROCIOUS BEASTS!” during which an emaciated and moth-eaten tiger, crouched on a horse, rode twice round the ring with the contrite and crestfallen countenance of a hen-pecked suburbanite who has returned home without recalling the reason for the knot in his handkerchief.
Ten minutes’ intermission, that was no intermission for us, and there came more properties, hoops and rings of fire, tables and chairs, performing dogs to be held in leash, and a final act for which we set up the elephant’s bicycle and drove the lion out for a spin on the huge animal’s back. Had our uniforms been as airy as the raiment of the Hindu coolies slinking at the tail of the howling hordes that poured through the exit, our labyrinthian paths about the enclosure could easily have been traced by the streams of sweat left behind us. Even though our tasks were by no means ended with the performance, we rarely waited for the disappearance of the last stragglers to strip as far as unexacting Singhalese propriety would permit.
When the last property had been laid away, we arranged our beds by setting together several chairs chosen from the general havoc, and turned in. Unless we were disturbed by prowling natives, we even slept; though rarely all at once and never for an extended period.
The boss, during that strenuous first day, had promised us ample leisure when once the tents and cages were set up. Unfortunately, he forgot his promise. Each day we were stirring at dawn, and, after a banana and a wafer across the way, we fell to work. The benches, which the departing multitude had scattered pellmell in their dash for the cooler night outside, must be reset. The chairs of the sahibs, strewn about the ring like wreckage washed ashore, must be rearranged in symmetrical rows and decorated with ribbons. Cast-off programs, banana peelings, betel-nut leaves, and all the rubbish of a band of 285merrymakers had to be picked up; the tent ropes “sweated” to keep them taut; the lion’s cage minutely inspected; the ring re-sprinkled with sawdust and, a job abhorred, freshly whitewashed. Between these regular duties came a hundred and one chores of the boss’s finding; and, whatever the task in hand, it must be interrupted ever and anon to throw tent stakes at the awe-stricken faces that peered through the openings in the canvas. Strange fortune if we were finished when the cry of “touch off the lights” sent us shinnying up the tent poles and ropes in Jack Tar fashion to kindle the gasoline burners. Not even the Reverend Peacock could have accused us, during those merry days, of living, like drones, on the industry of others.
Fitzgerald’s Circus had been domiciled nearly a week in Colombo, when I was unexpectedly advanced from the position of a “swipe” to one of weighty importance. It was during an idle hour late one afternoon. The four of us were displaying our accomplishments in the deserted ring, when it was my good fortune, or bad, according to the individual point of view, to be detected by the ringmaster and the proprietor in the act of “doing a hand-stand.” Certain so commonplace a feat in itself could not have attracted the attention the pair bestowed upon me, I regained my accustomed posture fully expecting to lose my cherished “quid a week” for this defilement of the sawdust circle. I waited contritely. The ringmaster looked me over with critical dispassion from my shorn head to my bare feet, turned his perpetual scowl on “Fitz” for a moment, and addressed me in the metallic voice of a phonograph:—