CHAPTER I PETERSON'S CIRCUS
THE performance was over. Out of the great tent streamed the audience, chattering, laughing, discussing the points of the show. Boys swung down from the high benches, darting round to the back of the tent for a last glimpse of the sleepy lions in their caravan—to be roughly thrust aside by the tamer, who displayed now little of the smiling carelessness that he had shown a little earlier in the ring. "Off out o' that!"—and the boys fled, to rejoin anxious parents who were seeking them unavailingly in the gloom that seemed darker from the flaring naphtha lights.
The dusty road leading to the township echoed under many feet. From the fences horses were untied, and riders cantered off into the night—every bush youngster firmly resolved to turn himself and his pony into Circus performers before the end of the week. Buggies and springcarts, packed to overflowing, followed more slowly. It was still the day of the horse: motors were vaguely talked of in the cities, but the country folk who had driven long