could kill a man in its struggles, or break an arm or leg as easily as he could snap a carrot. There could never be enough men to deal with it, because no one could foretell what new tricks it would play: Micky declared it used to think out fresh ones at every halt. And always there loomed the specter of its getting damaged, the dread of every Owner and every hand. A regular patrol had to be kept round it during performances, since many a penniless enthusiast, unable to obtain a ticket, had been known to try to get in by the simple method of slitting it with his pocket-knife in the darkness. Fierce it was, and yet so fragile; it was small wonder that the hands hated the Big Top, and that Big Dan fretted over it in his dreams.
Today it was kind. There was no breath of wind, and it went up easily, straining at the pegs that needed the strongest men for their hammering. The entrance tent, a much smaller affair, folio wed, and the elephants brought in the menagerie cages, in front of which the country folk would gape and stare before passing on to the ring-side. The supports for the seats came next: then, two by two, the men carried in the long slender planks that bent so alarmingly when stout people stepped on them in climbing to the top tiers. Big Dan and Crowe had marked out the ring with little sticks—no others were permitted to do this. They stood by while the green painted box-edging was laid round the circle, earthed up on either side: watched a trusted man go over every inch of the ringsurface with a fine rake, after each tiny hump or ridge