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Mr Galliano's Circus

Enid Blyton

  Mr. Galliano’s Circus


  Enid Blyton




























  Original Illustrations


  One morning, just as Jimmy Brown was putting away his books at the end of school, he heard a shout from outside: “Here comes the circus!”

  All the children looked up from their desks in excitement. They knew that a circus was coming to their town and they hoped that the circus procession of caravans, cages, and horses would go through the streets when they were out of school.

  “Come on!” yelled Jimmy. “I can hear the horses’ hoofs! Goodbye, Miss White!”

  All the children yelled good-morning to their teacher and scampered out to see the circus procession. They were just in time. First of all came a very fine row of black horses, and on the front one rode a man dressed all in red, blowing a horn. He did look grand!

  Then came a carriage that looked as if it were made of gold, and in it sat a handsome man, rather fat, and a plump woman dressed all in pink satin.

  “That’s the man who owns the circus!” said somebody. “That’s Mr. Galliano—and that’s his wife! My, don’t they look fine!”

  Mr. Galliano kept taking off his hat and bowing to all the people and the children round about. Really, he acted just like a king. He had a very fine moustache with sharp, pointed ends that turned upwards. His top-hat was shiny and black. Jimmy thought he was simply grand.

  Then came some white horses, and on the first one, leading the rest, was a pretty little girl in a white, shiny frock. She had dark-brown curls, and eyes as blue as the cornflowers in the cottage gardens nearby. She made a face at Jimmy, and tried to flick him with her little whip. She hit his wrist.

  “You’re a naughty girl!” shouted Jimmy. But the little girl only laughed and made another face. Jimmy forgot about her when he saw the next bit of the procession. This was a clown, dressed in red and black, with a high, pointed hat; and he didn’t walk along the road—no, he got along by turning himself over and over on his hands and feet, first on his hands and then on his feet, and then on his hands again.

  “That’s called turning cart-wheels,” said Tommy, who was standing next to Jimmy. “Isn’t he clever at it? See, there he goes, like a cart-wheel over and over and round and round!”

  Suddenly the clown jumped upright and took off his hat. He turned over on to his hands again, and popped his hat on his feet, which were now up in the air. Then the clown walked quickly along on his hands so that his feet looked like his head with a hat on. All the children laughed and laughed.

  Next came a long string of gaily-coloured caravans. How Jimmy loved these! There was a red one with neat little windows at which curtains blew in the wind. There was a blue one and a green one. They all had small chimneys, and the smoke came out of them and streamed away backwards.

  “Oh, I wish I lived in a caravan!” said Jimmy longingly. “How lovely it must be to live in a house that has wheels and can go away down the lanes and stand still in fields at night!”

  The horses that drew the caravans were not so fine-looking as the black and white ones that had gone in front. Jimmy hardly had time to look at them before there came a tremendous shout down the street: “There’s an elephant!”

  And, dear me, so there was! He came along grandly, pulling three cages behind him. He didn’t feel the weight at all, for he was as strong as twenty horses. He was a great big creature, with a long swinging trunk, and as he reached Jimmy he put out his trunk to the little boy as if he wanted to shake hands with him! Jimmy was pleased. He wished he had a bun to give the elephant.

  The big animal lumbered on, dragging behind it the cages. Two of them were closed cages and nothing could be seen of the animals inside. But one was open at one side and Jimmy could see three monkeys there. They sat in a row on a perch, all dressed in warm red coats, and they looked round at the children and grown-ups watching them, with bright eyes.

  “Look! There’s another monkey—on that man’s shoulder!” said Tommy. Jimmy looked to where he pointed and, sure enough, riding on the step of the monkey’s cage was a funny little man, with a face almost as wrinkled as the monkey’s on his shoulder. The monkey he carried cuddled closely to the man and hugged him with its tiny arms. As they passed the children the monkey took off the man’s cap and waved it!

  “Did you see that?” shouted Jimmy in delight. “That monkey took off the man’s cap and waved it at us! Look! It’s putting it back on his head now. Isn’t it a dear little thing?”

  At last the procession ended, and all the horses, cages, and caravans trundled into Farmer Giles’s field where the circus was to be held. The children went home to dinner, full of all they had seen, longing to go and see the circus when it opened on Wednesday.

  Jimmy told his mother all about it, and his father too. Jimmy’s father was a carpenter, and he had been out of work for nearly a year. He was very unhappy about it, for he was a good workman, and he did not like to see Jimmy’s mother going out scrubbing and washing to earn money.

  “My!” said Jimmy, finishing up his dinner, and wishing there was some more, “how I’d like to go to that circus.”

  “Well, you can’t, Jimmy,” said his mother. “So don’t think any more about it.”

  “Oh, I know that, Mum,” said Jimmy cheerfully. “Don’t you worry. I’ll go and see the animals and the clown and everything in the field, even if I can’t go to the circus.”

  So after school each day Jimmy slipped under the rope that went all round the ring of circus vans and cages, and wandered in and out by himself. At first he had been shouted at, and once Mr. Galliano himself had come along with his pointed moustache bristling in anger, and told Jimmy to go away.

  Jimmy was afraid then, and was just going when he heard a voice calling him from a caravan nearby. He turned to see who it was, and saw the curly-haired little girl there.

  “Hallo, boy!” she said. “I saw you watching our procession yesterday. Are you coming to the show tomorrow night!”

  “No,” said Jimmy. “I’ve got no money. I say—can I just peep inside that caravan! It does look so nice!”

  “Come up the ladder and have a peep if you want to,” she said. Jimmy went up the little ladder at the back of the caravan and peeped inside. There was a bed at the back, against the wooden wall of the caravan. There was a black stove, on which a kettle was boiling away. There was a tiny table, a stool, and a chair. There were shelves all round holding all sorts of things, and there was a gay carpet on the floor.

  “It looks lovely?” said Jimmy. “I wonder why people live in houses when they can buy caravans instead.”

  “Can’t th
ink!” said the little girl. Jimmy stared at her—and she made a dreadful face at him.

  “You’re rude,” said Jimmy. “One day the wind will change and your face will get stuck like that.”

  “I suppose that’s how you got your own face,” said the little girl, with a giggle. “I wondered how it could be so queer.”

  “It isn’t queer,” said Jimmy. “And look here—just you tell me why you hit me with your whip yesterday? You hurt me.”

  “I didn’t mean to,” said the little girl. “What’s your name?”

  “Jimmy,” said Jimmy.

  “Mine’s Lotta,” said the girl. “And my father is called Laddo, and my mother is called Lal. They ride the horses in the circus and jump from one to another. I ride them too.”

  “Oh,” said Jimmy, thinking Lotta was really very clever, “I do wish I could come and see you.”

  “You come this time tomorrow and I’ll take you round the circus camp and show you everything,” said Lotta. “I must go now. I’ve got to cook the sausages for supper. Lal will be angry if she comes back and they’re not cooked.”

  “Do you call your mother Lal?” said Jimmy, surprised.

  “’Course I do,” said Lotta, smiling. “And I call my father Laddo. Everybody does. Goodbye till tomorrow.”

  Jimmy ran home. He felt most excited. To think that the next day he would be taken all round the circus camp and would see everything closely! That was better than going to the circus.


  THE next day, as soon as afternoon school was over, Jimmy ran off to the circus field. A great tent had been put up that day. This was where the circus was to be held that night. The circus folk had been very busy all day long, getting everything ready.

  Jimmy looked for Lotta. The little man who owned the monkeys came along and he glared at Jimmy.

  “You go home just as quickly as ever you can,” he said. “Go along! No boys allowed here!”

  “But ...” began Jimmy.

  “What! You dare to disobey me, the great Lilliput!” said the little man, and he ran at Jimmy. Jimmy didn’t know quite what was going to happen next, but a voice called out from the caravan nearby:

  “Lilliput! Lilliput! That’s my friend! Leave him alone!”

  The little man turned round and bowed. “Your pardon,” he said. “Any friend of yours is welcome here, dear Lotta.”

  “Don’t be silly, Lilliput!” said Lotta, and the little girl jumped down from the caravan and ran over to Jimmy. “This is Jimmy. And this is Lilliput, Jimmy. He has the monkeys. Where’s Jemima, Lilliput?”

  “Somewhere about,” said Lilliput. “Jemima love! Jemima love! Come along!”

  A small, bright-eyed monkey came running out on all-fours from under a cart. She tore over to Lilliput, leapt up to his shoulder and put her arms round his neck.

  “This is Jemima,” said Lotta. “She is the darlingest monkey in the world—isn’t she, Lilliput? And the cleverest.”

  “That’s right,” said Lilliput. “I bought her from a black man when I was in foreign lands, and she’s just as cunning as can be. Look, Jemima—here’s Nobby! Go ride him, go ride him!”

  The monkey made a little chattering noise, slipped down to the ground and ran quietly over to a large brown dog who was nosing about the field. She jumped on to his back, held on to his collar and jumped up and down to make him go. Jimmy laughed and laughed.

  “Come along!” said Lotta, slipping her bare brown arm through his. “Come and see the clown.”

  The clown lived in a rather dirty little caravan all by himself. He sat at the door of it, polishing some black shoes he meant to wear that night. He didn’t look a bit like a clown now. He had no paint on his face, and he wore a dirty old hat. But he was very funny.

  “Hallo, hallo, hallo!” he said, when he saw Jimmy coming. “The Prince of Goodness Knows Where, as sure as I’m eating my breakfast!” He got up and bowed politely.

  “But you’re not eating your breakfast!” Jimmy laughed.

  “Then you can’t be the Prince,” said the clown. “That just proves it—you can’t be the Prince.”

  “Well, I’m not,” said Jimmy. “I’m Jimmy Brown. What’s your name?”

  “I am Sticky Stanley, the world-famous clown,” said the clown proudly, and he gave his shoes an extra rub.

  “What a funny name!” said Jimmy. “Why do you call yourself Sticky?”

  “Because I stick to my job and my friends stick to me!” said Stanley. And he leapt down from his caravan, began to carol a loud song and juggle with his two shoes, his brush, and his tin of polish. He sent them all up into the air one by one and caught them very cleverly, sending them up into the air again, higher and higher.

  Jimmy watched him, his eyes nearly falling out of his head. However could anyone be so clever? The clown caught them all neatly in one hand, bowed to Jimmy, and turned two or three somersaults, landing with a thud right inside his caravan.

  “Isn’t he funny?” said Lotta. “He’s always like that. Come and see the elephant. He’s a darling.”

  The elephant was in a tall tent by himself, eating hay contentedly. His leg was made fast to a strong post.

  “But he doesn’t really need to be tied up at all,” said Lotta. “He would never wander away. Would you Jumbo?”

  “Hrrrumph!” said Jumbo, and he lifted up his trunk and took hold of one of Lotta’s curls.

  “Naughty Jumbo!” said Lotta, and she pushed his trunk down again. “Look, this is Jimmy. Say Jimmy, Jumbo.”

  “Hrrrumph!” said Jumbo, and he said it so loudly that Jimmy’s cap flew off in the draught! Jumbo put down his trunk, picked up Jimmy’s cap and put it back on his head. Jimmy was so surprised.

  “Hrrrumph!” said Jumbo again, and pulled out some more hay to eat.

  “He’s very clever,” said Lotta. “He can play cricket just as well as you can. He holds a bat with his trunk, and hits the ball with it when his keeper, Mr. Tonks, bowls to him. Now come and see the dogs.”

  Jimmy had heard the dogs long before he saw them. There were ten of them—all terriers. They were in a very big cage, running about and barking. They looked clean and silky and happy. They crowded up to Jimmy when he put his hand out to them.

  “That’s Darky and that’s Nigger and that’s Boy and that’s Judy and that’s Punch and that’s . . .” began Lotta. But Jimmy couldn’t see which dog was which. He just stood there and let them all lick his hands as fast as they could.

  “I take them all out once a day,” said Lotta. “They go out five at a time. I have one big lead and they each have a short lead off it, so I can keep them all together. They do pull though!”

  “What do they do in the circus!” asked Jimmy.

  “Oh, all kinds of things,” said Lotta. “They can all walk on their hind legs, and some of them can dance round and round in time to the music. This one, Judy, can jump through hoops held as high as my head. She is very clever.”

  “I like Judy,” said Jimmy, letting the little sandy-headed terrier lick his fingers. “How do they teach the dogs their tricks, Lotta? Do they punish them if they don’t do them properly?”

  Lotta looked at Jimmy in horror. “Punish them!” she said. “That shows how little you know about a real good circus, Jimmy. Why, we all know that no animals will play or work properly for us unless we love them and are kind to them. If Mr. Galliano saw anyone hitting a dog or a monkey he would send him off at once. We love our animals and feed them well, and look after them. Then they are so full of love and good spirits that they think it is fun to play and work with us.”

  “I like animals too,” said Jimmy. “I would never hurt one, Lotta, so don’t look at me like that. One thing I’d like better than any other is a dog of my own—but Dad couldn’t possibly buy a licence for him, so I'll never have one! How I wish I belonged to a circus!”

  “I wish you belonged too,” said Lotta. “Usually in a circus there are lots of children�
��but I’m the only one here and it’s often lonely for me.”

  “Oh, I say! Look! Who’s that over there?” said Jimmy suddenly, pointing to a man who was doing the most extraordinary things on a large mat outside a caravan.

  “Oh, that’s Oona the acrobat,” said Lotta. “He is just practising for tonight. Oona! Here’s a friend of mine! Where’s your ladder? Do go up it upside down on your hands and stand on your head on the top of it, just to show Jimmy!”

  Oona was at that moment looking between his legs at them in a very peculiar manner. He grinned and stood the right way up. “Hallo, youngster!” he said. “So you want to see me do my tricks before you come to the circus!”

  “He’s not coming,” said Lotta. “So do your best trick for him!”

  Oona, who was a fine strong-looking young man with a mop of curly golden hair, fetched a step-ladder from his caravan. It was painted gold and looked very grand. Oona stood it firmly on the ground, turned a few somersaults on his mat first, and then walked up the ladder to the very top on his hands, waving his legs above him as he did so.

  When he got to the top he stood there on his head alone! Oona lightly twisted himself over and came down beside Jimmy on his feet.

  “There!” he said “Easy as winking! Try it yourself!”

  “Oh, I couldn’t possibly!” said Jimmy. “I can’t even walk on my hands.”

  “That’s easy, if you like!” said Lotta, and to Jimmy’s amazement the little girl flung herself lightly forward and walked a few steps on her hands.

  “How I wish I could do that!” said Jimmy. “My goodness! The boys at school would stare!”

  “Try it,” said Lotta. “I’ll hold your legs up for you till you get your balance.”

  Somehow Jimmy got on to his hands and Lotta held his feet up. “Walk on them—walk on your hands!” she shouted. “Go on—I’ve got your legs all right!”

  “I can’t!” gasped Jimmy. “I can’t make my hands go—my body is so heavy on them!”

  Lotta began to laugh. She laughed so much that she dropped Jimmy’s legs, and there he was, lying sprawling in the grass, laughing too.