"That's all I want. Well, I guess it's time we hunted
up something to eat."
There was hot stew waiting at the mess-wagon, with potatoes baked in their jackets. Jeff explained that you cleaned your own plate with grass when you had finished, if you were dainty, as that was all the plate you had for the roly-poly pudding that followed. Hugh thought he had never known so beautiful a meal. The men sat on the ground, thankful for the rest in the cool evening air; and he was among them. One of them, between Micky and Jeff; a real Circus hand. He looked with pity at the boys of the township, who came as near as they dared, staring at the queer Circus folk.
Yesterday he had been proud that he had ridden an elephant. This evening even that stupendous achievement had faded, for he had a deeper pride. He was no longer just a boy: he had traveled with men, worked with them, eaten with them. One of them, who meant to be a circus owner, had talked with him, as man to man: and he had made a vow in his inmost heart that he would remember every word he said. He knew that, more than anything, he wanted to be mates with Jeff.
The men had finished, and were smoking and yarning round him. He turned on his back and lay looking up at the evening sky. There were white clouds drifting across it; one, to his fancy, took the shape of a Circus tent. A Big Top. He knew it—that was the Big Top he and Jeff were going to have in their Dream-Circus!