Animal Anecdotes - 1


We used to have lots of amusement in those days. We had a large elephant called "Babe". In travelling over the road Babe got wise to the fact that the people in these dead ox wagons going to the circus carried their lunches with them, so she would invariably overtake the wagons, and with her trunk reach over the rear end and investigate the baskets and their contents. Frequently she would have the bread and pie and everything of that kind eaten before she would be noticed by those sitting in the front seat. Even if she were noticed they would always scramble forward and offer no opposition to her taking full possession of everything in the wagon, they being frightened nearly out of their wits. The colored boy who had charge of her and drove her over the road was nicknamed "Shoo Fly". When traveling he would often meet some adventurous fellow, or some one half tipsy who would want a ride on the elephant going toward town. After a little bartering, if he couldn't get half a dollar he would take a quarter for the fare. As a rule the elephant was very nice and quiet about it and would carry his passenger along safely, but just as soon as she would come to an open woods where there was no fence, she would dart under the trees and very soon come across a limb strong enough to brush him off. She would then return to the road and the rider was generally well satisfied as far as he had gone, and without desire for any more of it.

I never got familiar with an elephant, as I always was in fear of them. I remember in Valparaiso, South America, where we were showing, I sent a boy for a bucket of water and cautioned him to go around the elephants. In coming back with a bucketful he made one trip successfully, and it struck me that one of the elephants said, "Now, when he comes through again, you grab the bucket and I'll smash him and we'll get the bucket of water." The boy felt encouraged at getting through the first time without any trouble, but when he came along the next time one elephant reached over and took the bucket, while another elephant struck him in the face with his trunk. Of course, he left them in possession of the bucket of water.

Going south we encountered some very bad roads as well as very bad weather. We lightened up our loads by throwing away a great deal of our stuff, and missed lots of our shows. We had a monkey by the name of "Jeff", a great big fine fellow, not trained at all. After the afternoon show we would hitch up and go as far as we could before dark, then stop, build a fire and sit around it a while. Jeff would be cold, so we would bring him out of his cage and put him on a box or barrel, where he would sit looking as wise as if he could speak. He was as gentle and docile as one could wish. We would have him put both hands on his head, or put both hands on his neck, or sit with his face in his hands. No matter what position we placed him in, he would remain there as long as we would let him sit by the fire with us. But take him away from the fire, and we could do nothing with him.

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