can play. Good business. Got to do your best tonight, for we're goin' to have a crowd. But you won't let 'em down."
That, from the Boss, was astounding. Hugh looked up at him, his eyes grateful.
'Til try, sir. I—I'm jolly sorry about last night."
"Not your fault. Bigger men than you have been got at. Only don't go drinkin' any stray cups of tea again— I hope you kept your eye on Mrs. Peterson when she was fillin' your cup!"
Of all the remarkable events of that day none equaled this—that the Boss had joked with him! It reduced Jeff and Micky to speechlessness as they exercised him in the little tent: it lingered in Hugh's memory, bracing him when he slipped into his seat in the Big Top that night, determined to play up to Joey as never bef ore. For the Circus he would always play his best. But today he had seen a new Boss, a Boss with a twinkle in his eyes who joked with him. One would die for a Boss like that.
He had been ordered not to go into the seats this evening until the second half was about to begin: Big Dan knew that the crowd would be keen-eyed for him, so that it was wiser to keep him out of sight. As it was, heads craned forward at the slight curly-haired figure in the front-row of the "shillings." Some one said, "There's the boy that was drugged!" The whisper ran round the tent: his neighbors paid him embarrassing attention while he stared fixedly at the ring, wishing his turn would come.
One man, halfway up in the cheap seats, who had watched the first part of the program listlessly, stiffened