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Circus Days Again

Enid Blyton

  Circus Days Again


  Enid Blyton







  The Circus is on the Road

  Madame Prunella and her Parrots

  Madame Prunella joins the Show

  What Happened on a Windy Night

  The Hunt for the Bears

  Back to the Camp

  Prunella is Found

  The Circus Moves On

  Zebras—A Seal—And Two Little Girls!

  The Three New Clowns

  Britomart Joins the Circus

  Poor Mrs. Galliano!

  Britomart, the Man without a Smile

  Lotta Gets into Trouble

  Lotta Makes New Friends

  Lisa Plays a Trick

  Prunella Loses Her Temper

  More Trouble!

  Lotta is Punished

  What Will Happen to the Circus?

  Jimmy Learns the Truth

  A Fine Old Muddle!

  Lotta Disappears!

  Lotta’s Big Adventure

  Lotta Gets Her Way

  Good Old Galliano!


  The Circus is on the Road

  LUMBERING down the dusty lanes one warm May day went a strange procession. The country-folk stared in surprise, and stopped their work to watch it pass.

  “It’s a circus!” said one to another. “Look—there’s an elephant! And there’s a funny creature—a chimpanzee, isn’t he?”

  It was a circus! It was Mr. Galliano’s famous circus, on its way to its next show-place. With it was the circus-boy, Jimmy, and his famous dog, Lucky. Lotta the circus-girl was there, riding on her lovely pony, Black Beauty. Mr. Wally was in his car with Sammy, his clever chimpanzee. Sammy was dressed properly, in coat and trousers, and he kept raising his hat most politely to all the country-folk he passed. How they laughed to see him!

  Lilliput, with his four monkeys, passed by. Jemima, his favourite little monkey, was curled as usual about his neck, her tiny teeth lovingly nibbling his left ear. She waved a small paw as she passed the wondering country-folk.

  The glorious circus-horses trotted by, their proud heads held up well, their coats shining like satin. With them were Lotta’s mother and father, Lal and Laddo. In a big travelling-cage behind came their performing dogs, yapping a little because of the heat of the day.

  Mr. Volla was in a big cage with his five clumsy bears. They were not very fond of going from place to place, and he liked to be with them to quiet them. Dobby, his favourite bear, sat with his arm round his trainer, grunting a little when the cage jolted over a rut. The side-doors were open because of the warm weather, and the bears could see all that they passed. They liked that.

  Sticky Stanley, the clown, got all the laughs as usual, when he walked upside down on his hands, or gambolled about, making the silliest jokes. Everyone loved old Sticky Stanley, and no matter where he was, he was always the same, merry, comical, and friendly. Oona, the acrobat, sat in his caravan watching Sticky Stanley. He was too lazy to join him just then.

  The caravans and cages and horses went slowly by. There was no hurry. The circus was not opening until two nights ahead, and Mr. Galliano was hoping that the marvellous weather would hold out so that the circus would take a great deal of money.

  “Then,” thought the ring-master, tipping his hat so much to one side that it nearly fell off, “then I shall make my circus bigger! I shall get more clowns. I shall get more performing animals. My circus will be more famous than ever!”

  A pretty yellow caravan went by. It had blue wheels and a blue chimney. It belonged to Mrs. Brown, Jimmy’s mother. Jimmy, his mother, and Brownie, his father, all lived in the pretty caravan together. Jimmy had bought it for his mother with the money that he and his clever dog, Lucky, had earned in the circus-ring.

  It was a fine caravan. It had taps to turn on over a little sink—and this was something that not even Mr. Galliano’s caravan had! It had four bunks that folded flat against the wall. Jimmy slept in one and loved it. It had a fine cooking-stove, and gay curtains that flapped in and out of the windows in the little breeze. Mrs. Brown was very proud of her caravan.

  She was cooking something on the stove. The smoke went up the chimney and floated away on the hot May air. Jimmy smelt his dinner cooking and went to find out what it was. Lucky came with him, running happily on four springy paws. She was a beautiful fox-terrier, smooth-haired, small, with a half-black, half-sandy head. Her eyes were soft and brown, and she loved Jimmy better than anyone else in the world.

  Next to Jimmy she loved Lotta, the circus-girl—but if she had to choose between being with Lotta or being with Jimmy, it was always Jimmy she chose! Like a shadow she kept at the boy’s heels, and every night slept at his feet in the bunk.

  Lucky was a valuable dog. She was one of the cleverest dogs that Mr. Galliano had ever seen, and it was Jimmy who had trained her. The little dog could do the most marvellous tricks, and went into the circus-ring every night with Jimmy. Lotta went too, with her beautiful black pony, which Lucky could ride almost as well as the two children could! It was funny to see the small dog balancing herself cleverly on Black Beauty’s back, bumping up and down as the horse went round the ring!

  “Mother, isn’t it hot!” cried Jimmy, as he jumped up the steps at the back of the caravan. “What’s for dinner? It’s a lovely smell.”

  “Oh, Jimmy, surely you can’t eat any dinner after eating four sausages for breakfast!” laughed his mother. “I’ve got Irish stew here.”

  “Can Lotta come and share it?” asked Jimmy eagerly. “She’s only got ham sandwiches, and she says they’ll be very dry!”

  Lotta’s mother, Lal, was not the good cook that Mrs. Brown was, and Lotta loved to come and share the delicious meals that Jimmy’s mother prepared. Mrs. Brown was fond of the little girl, so she nodded her head.

  “Yes. Call her. She loves Irish stew.” Jimmy shouted for Lotta and she came running, her curly hair flying in the wind.

  “Irish stew! Come and have some!” yelled Jimmy. Lotta was up the caravan steps with a bound. Mrs. Brown turned and looked at her.

  “What a dirty little grub you are!” she said. “After all the trouble I’ve taken in teaching you how to be clean and tidy too. If you want any stew, go and wash your hands and do your hair. And how in the world did you manage to get that frock so dirty? Have you been sweeping a chimney or something?”

  Lotta grinned and made a face. She went to turn the tap on at Mrs. Brown’s neat sink.

  “Oh no, Lotta! You just go and wash in your own caravan in the pail there,” cried Mrs. Brown. “You’re so dirty you’ll make my nice clean sink black. Go along with you.”

  It wasn’t any use arguing with Mrs. Brown, as Lotta knew. So down the steps she went again and flew to her own caravan, which was not nearly so pretty or so clean as Jimmy’s. She rinsed her hands in the pail of water there, ran a wet towel over her face, brushed her flying curls, and tied a ribbon on one side. She looked to see if she had a clean dress, but each one seemed even blacker than the one she had on, so she gave that up as a bad job.

  Only Lotta’s beautiful, spangled circus-frock was clean and fresh. However untidy and dirty the circus-folk looked in their everyday clothes, they kept their ring-suits and frocks very carefully indeed. The tiniest tear was always mended. The smallest spot was washed out. Nothing must spoil them when they were worn in the ring.

  The two children talked about the next show-place as they ate their stew. The town they were going to was a big one.

  “Mr. Galliano plans to have a bigger circus
if we do well at Bigminton,” said Jimmy. “Won’t that be fun, Lotta?”

  “What will he have if it’s to be bigger?” asked Lotta.

  “He might have another elephant—or a sea-lion. Sea-lions are marvellous at performing tricks,” said Jimmy. “I’m almost sure he’s going to have more clowns. One clown isn’t nearly enough really, though Sticky Stanley is simply marvellous.”

  “Well, he can’t have any more horses or dogs because we’ve plenty of those,” said Lotta, holding out her plate for some more stew. “Won’t it be lovely to have more people in the circus. I hope they’ll be nice.”

  The circus procession rumbled on as the children ate their dinner. The sun shone through the windows of the blue caravan. Old Jumbo, the elephant in front trumpeted because he wanted a drink. The dogs in the travelling-cages yelped too. They wanted a run.

  “Listen to them,” said Lotta. “I hope we get to our camping-place soon. They do so want to stretch their legs. Shall we take them for a walk, Jimmy, when we camp for the night?”

  So, when the sun was sinking, and the circus arranged itself around a big field, the two children slipped open the door of the dogs’ big cage, and let them all out.

  “Punch! Judy! Pincher! Toby! Come on, all of you!” cried Lotta. “Lucky, hie, Lucky, you come too. And where’s Lulu the spaniel, Jimmy? Oh, there she is! Come, Lulu—we’re all off for a run.”

  The camp settled in whilst the children took the restless dogs for a run. Jumbo was tied to a big tree. He caressed his keeper, Mr. Tonks, with his trunk, glad to be able to take a rest. Mr. Tonks spoke softly to the big animal. They were the best friends in the world.

  Sammy the chimpanzee sat down to a meal with Mr. Wally, his master. Mr. Wally talked to him as if he could understand every word—and really, it seemed as if Sammy could, for he jabbered back at Mr. Wally at if he were really answering him.

  The little monkey-man, Lilliput, set a tub upside down, and put some oranges and bananas on it for his four monkeys. They sat round it, peeling their bananas and chattering. Jemima peeled a large banana, bit it in half, and offered the other half to Lilliput. When another monkey snatched it from her, she flew at him and pulled off the little coat he was wearing.

  “Now, now, Jemima!” said Lilliput, peeling a banana quickly. “Look—I’ll bite this in half—and you shall have the other half, There.”

  Jemima was pleased. She took the half banana and ate it quickly, chattering with pleasure. Then, quick as lightning, she stuffed the peel down the neck of the other monkey. Squealing with merriment she leapt away to the top of her master’s caravan. She held on to the chimney and watched the other monkey trying to get the peel from the neck of his little red coat.

  The horses whinnied as Lal and Laddo rubbed them down. The five bears grunted as they ate their evening meal. Mr. Volla gave them each a large piece of toffee afterwards, and it was funny to watch the bears solemnly sucking it, enjoying the sweetness.

  Lotta and Jimmy came back with all the dogs, happy now after a long run. The children saw them safely into their cage, all except Lulu and Lucky, and then went to get some cocoa and biscuits from Mrs. Brown.

  The camp had settled in. The camp-fires burned like glow-worms in the dark field. Sticky Stanley got out his guitar and sang a funny little song. But the circus-folk were too tired to gather round and listen that night. One by one they went to their caravans and fell asleep.

  “Isn’t it fun to belong to a travelling circus!” said Jimmy sleepily to little dog Lucky, as he climbed into his bunk. “We’ll have some fun here, Lucky. Goodnight—and don’t nibble my toes till the morning.”

  Madame Prunella and her Parrots

  THE circus opened at Bigminton after a day or two’s rest. The weather kept fine, and Mr. Galliano was delighted to see so many people paying their money at the gate.

  “You shall have a new dress,” he promised Lotta, sticking his hat on one side. “And you, Jimmy, shall have a new ring-suit that shines like the moon.”

  All the circus-folk liked to wear the loveliest suits and dresses that they could possibly afford, when they appeared in the ring. The shinier the better. Lotta longed to have a dress so covered with spangles that the dress itself could hardly be seen. Jimmy didn’t mind so much, though he too liked to feel grand when he went into the ring. But how he loved to dress up little dog Lucky.

  Lucky had quite a wardrobe of coats and collars and bows. Jimmy’s mother kept them all clean and mended, and laughed to see Lucky parading up and down in a grand new coat or stiff bow.

  “You and Jemima the monkey and Sammy the chimpanzee are all as vain as little girls,” she said. “As for Jemima, I wonder she doesn’t carry a looking-glass about with her to see if her whiskers are straight.”

  Oona the acrobat came by and called to Jimmy. “Hie, there! Would you like to come with me and visit my cousin? She lives near here, and maybe she’s goingto join the circus.”

  “Oooh, yes!” said Jimmy, and jumped down the steps with Lucky at his heels. “Where’s Lotta? She’d like to come too.”

  Lotta was practising in the ring. She had Black Beauty there, and was galloping round and round, standing lightly on his back. When her father shouted “Hup!” she jumped right round and stood facing the horse’s tail. When he shouted again she leapt round the other way. It was marvellous to watch her.

  “Lotta! Have you nearly finished?” cried Jimmy. “Oona’s going to visit his cousin, and I’m going with him.”

  “I’ll come too,” said Lotta, and she leapt lightly off the horse’s back. She turned to her father. “Can I go now, Laddo?” she asked. She called her mother Lal and her father Laddo, as everyone else did.

  “Yes, you can go,” said Laddo. “Leave Black Beauty. I want to trot him round with the other horses. He’s a great help to them, he’s so clever.”

  Lotta and Jimmy ran off with Oona. They asked him about his cousin. “Who is she? What does she do? Is she an animal-trainer?”

  Oona laughed. “Well—not exactly an animal trainer. She keeps parrots.”

  “Parrots!” squealed Lotta. “Oh, I love parrots! What do hers do? Do they talk? Does she take them into the ring?”

  “Of course,” said Oona. “They talk, they recite—and they sing a song together. One of them, I forget its name, is very clever indeed. It can hold a brush in its claws and brush its crest. It can do a little dance too, whilst the music plays and the others sing.”

  “Golly!” said Jimmy. “That will be fun. I've never had anything to do with birds before. I wonder if they’ll like me as much as the animals do.”

  Oona looked at Jimmy and laughed. “Oh, you’llfind that all Madame Prunella’s parrots will let you do what you like with them!’ he said. “You’ve got the secret of handling every live creature there is, Jimmy—and the parrots will be all over you.”

  They caught a tram and went down into the heart of Bigminton. They came to a ramshackle little house, with a notice in the window,” Rooms to let.” As they knocked at the door a chorus of screeches rose on the air from inside the house.

  Then a deep voice spoke: “Come in, wipe your feet, shut the door, and say how-do-you-do.”

  Jimmy looked astonished. This was a funny greeting, he thought. He wasn’t sure if he was going to like Madame Prunella if she spoke to them like this. Lotta saw his face and laughed.

  “That’s not your cousin speaking, is it?” she cried to Oona. “It’s one of the parrots, isn’t it?”

  “Of course,” said Oona, and he opened the door. Another voice called out in a sing-song manner : “Here comes the sweep! Swee-ee-eep! Swee-ee-eeep! Wash your face, my dear, wash your face.”

  The children laughed. That was another parrot, they knew. What fun! They all went into a tiny room, and Oona kissed a small, fat little woman there. She was in a dressing-gown, sewing, and around her were about a dozen parrots, some grey and red, some the most brilliant colours imaginable.

  “Good morning,” she said. “Exc
use me getting up, but I’ve lost my shoes this morning, and there are pins everywhere. I upset the pin-box, you see—and now daren’t leave my chair to look for my shoes in case I prick my feet.”

  The children looked at the small, fat-cheeked little woman and liked her very much. Her eyes were small, and almost buried in her plump cheeks, but they shone and twinkled like blue beads. Her head was a mass of tight black curls. One parrot sat on her shoulder, singing a soft little song, and the others talked and screeched around. It was rather like being in the parrot-house at the Zoo. Everyone had to shout, for they couldn’t be heard unless they did.

  “This is Lotta, and this is Jimmy,” cried Oona to his cousin.

  “Oh, I’ve heard of Jimmy and his wonderful dog, Lucky,” said Madame Prunella, smiling. “Where is she?”

  “I left her with my mother,” said Jimmy. “I don’t much like bringing her among a lot of traffic. You’ll see her if you join Mr. Galliano’s circus. I do hope you do, Madame Prunella. I’d love to get to know some birds. I’ve only had animals so far.”

  “My parrots will never go to anyone but to me,” said Madame Prunella proudly. “I have trained them all myself, and look after them myself—and not one will allow itself to be handled by a stranger.”

  As she spoke, a large red-and-grey parrot lifted its crest up very high, and spoke in a deep voice. “Eggs and bacon, ham and cheese, coffee and biscuits!” it remarked, and then, very solemnly, hopped along the edge of the book-case where it was perched, and rubbed its great curved beak against Jimmy’s cheek.

  Madame Prunella stared in the greatest surprise. “Look at Gringle!” she cried. “Gringle! You are making love to Jimmy! You have never done that to anyone before! What’s happened to you?”

  “Ham and tongue, tomatoes and eggs, toffee and chocolate,” said the parrot, and stepped straight on to Jimmy’s left shoulder!

  Then it opened its beak and gave such a terrific screech that made Lotta jump, and gave Jimmy such a fright that he rushed to the other side of theroom! The parrot flew off his shoulder, sat on the top of the curtain, and laughed exactly like a naughty boy who had played a joke.