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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking tolerable cheap. I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to. The crowd drifted back suddenly and broke apart. People went running off in every direction. Buck Harkness followed after them looking rather pitiful. I could have stayed, but I didn’t want to.
I went to the circus and loafed around the back side till the watchman went by, and then dived in under the tent. I had my twenty-dollar gold piece and some other money, but I reckoned I better save it, because there ain’t no telling how soon you are going to need it, away from home and amongst strangers that way. You can’t be too careful. I ain’t opposed to spending money on circuses when there ain’t no other way, but there ain’t no use in WASTING it on them. I went to the circus and loafed around in back until the watchman came by and drove under the tent. I had my twenty-dollar gold piece and some other money, but I decided I should save it. There was no telling when or how soon I might need it, especially since I was away from home and among strangers. You can’t be too careful. I’m not opposed to spending money on circuses when there’s no other way around it, but there’s no use WASTING money on them either.
It was a real bully circus. It was the splendidest sight that ever was when they all come riding in, two and two, a gentleman and lady, side by side, the men just in their drawers and undershirts, and no shoes nor stirrups, and resting their hands on their thighs easy and comfortable—there must a been twenty of them—and every lady with a lovely complexion, and perfectly beautiful, and looking just like a gang of real sure-enough queens, and dressed in clothes that cost millions of dollars, and just littered with diamonds. It was a powerful fine sight; I never see anything so lovely. And then one by one they got up and stood, and went a-weaving around the ring so gentle and wavy and graceful, the men looking ever so tall and airy and straight, with their heads bobbing and skimming along, away up there under the tent-roof, and every lady’s rose-leafy dress flapping soft and silky around her hips, and she looking like the most loveliest parasol. It was a real good circus. The parade was the most splendid thing I’ve ever seen. Performers came riding in, two-by-two, man and lady. The men wore only their underwear and undershirts (no shoes or stirrups) and rested their hands on their thighs easily and comfortably. There must have been twenty of them. And every lady was beautiful with lovely complexions and millions dollars outfits that were littered with diamonds—they looked like real queens. It was an amazing sight—I’d never seen anything so lovely. And then they stood up one by one and went weaving around the ring, in a gentle and graceful wave. The men looked tall and light and straight with their heads bobbing and skimming along way up there under the tent roof. And every lady’s rose-leafy dress was flapping soft and silky around her hips, which made her look like the loveliest pink parasol.
And then faster and faster they went, all of them dancing, first one foot out in the air and then the other, the horses leaning more and more, and the ringmaster going round and round the center-pole, cracking his whip and shouting “Hi!—hi!” and the clown cracking jokes behind him; and by and by all hands dropped the reins, and every lady put her knuckles on her hips and every gentleman folded his arms, and then how the horses did lean over and hump themselves! And so one after the other they all skipped off into the ring, and made the sweetest bow I ever see, and then scampered out, and everybody clapped their hands and went just about wild. They all danced around faster and faster. First they’d stick one foot out in the air and then the other, while the horses leaned more and more to the side. The ringmaster would go round and round the center, cracking his whip and shouting, “Hyah! Hyah!” while the clown cracked jokes behind him. Eventually, everyone dropped their reins and every lady put her knuckles on her hips and every gentleman folded his arms as the horses leaned in and started sprinting! One after the other they all skipped off into the ring. They made the sweetest bow I’d ever seen, and then they scampered out. Everybody clapped their hands and went wild.
Well, all through the circus they done the most astonishing things; and all the time that clown carried on so it most killed the people. The ringmaster couldn’t ever say a word to him but he was back at him quick as a wink with the funniest things a body ever said; and how he ever COULD think of so many of them, and so sudden and so pat, was what I couldn’t noway understand. Why, I couldn’t a thought of them in a year. And by and by a drunk man tried to get into the ring—said he wanted to ride; said he could ride as well as anybody that ever was. They argued and tried to keep him out, but he wouldn’t listen, and the whole show come to a standstill. Then the people begun to holler at him and make fun of him, and that made him mad, and he begun to rip and tear; so that stirred up the people, and a lot of men begun to pile down off of the benches and swarm towards the ring, saying, “Knock him down! throw him out!” and one or two women begun to scream. So, then, the ringmaster he made a little speech, and said he hoped there wouldn’t be no disturbance, and if the man would promise he wouldn’t make no more trouble he would let him ride if he thought he could stay on the horse. So everybody laughed and said all right, and the man got on. The minute he was on, the horse begun to rip and tear and jump and cavort around, with two circus men hanging on to his bridle trying to hold him, and the drunk man hanging on to his neck, and his heels flying in the air every jump, and the whole crowd of people standing up shouting and laughing till tears rolled down. And at last, sure enough, all the circus men could do, the horse broke loose, and away he went like the very nation, round and round the ring, with that sot laying down on him and hanging to his neck, with first one leg hanging most to the ground on one side, and then t’other one on t’other side, and the people just crazy. It warn’t funny to me, though; I was all of a tremble to see his danger. But pretty soon he struggled up astraddle and grabbed the bridle, a-reeling this way and that; and the next minute he sprung up and dropped the bridle and stood! and the horse a-going like a house afire too. He just stood up there, a-sailing around as easy and comfortable as if he warn’t ever drunk in his life—and then he begun to pull off his clothes and sling them. He shed them so thick they kind of clogged up the air, and altogether he shed seventeen suits. And, then, there he was, slim and handsome, and dressed the gaudiest and prettiest you ever saw, and he lit into that horse with his whip and made him fairly hum—and finally skipped off, and made his bow and danced off to the dressing-room, and everybody just a-howling with pleasure and astonishment. They did the most astonishing things in that circus, all while the clown performed and nearly killed the audience with laughter. The ringmaster would scold him, but before you knew it, the clown would give him a wink and start saying the funniest things ever said. I couldn’t understand how he could COME UP with so many funny things to say and deliver them so perfectly. Why, I couldn’t have thought of the things he said if I tried for a whole year. Pretty soon, a drunk man tried to step into the ring—he said he wanted a ride and that he could ride as well as anyone ever could. They argued and tried to keep him out of the ring, but the man wouldn’t listen and the whole show came to a stop. The audience began to yell at him and make fun of him, which made him mad and violent. That roused everyone in the audience, and a lot of the men began to come down from the benches and swarm toward the ring saying, “Knock him down! Throw him out!” One or two women began to scream. So the ringmaster made a little speech saying that he hoped there wouldn’t be a scene. He said he’d let the man ride a horse as long as he thought he was able and wouldn’t make any more trouble. Everyone laughed and agreed, and the man got on the horse. The moment he got on, the horse began to jump and thrash around, even though two circus men held his bridle to keep him steady. The drunk man hung on to the horse’s neck. His heels flew into the air every time the horse jumped. The whole crowd was on its feet shouting and laughing with tears rolling down their faces. At last, despite the best efforts of the circus men, the horse broke loose and went running round and round the ring with that drunk lying on him and hanging on to his neck. First one leg would drag to the ground on one side of the horse, and then the other leg would drag on the other side. The crowd was going crazy. It wasn’t funny to me, though. I was scared because he was in so much danger. Soon he managed to sit up and straddle the horse and grabbed the bridle as the horse reeled this way and that. And then he jumped up, dropped the bridle, and stood up on the back of the horse as it ran round and round like it was on fire! He just stood there, sailing around as if he didn’t have a care in the world and had never been drunk once in his life. Then he began to throw off his clothes. He tore them off so quickly that all you could see were clothes flying around in the air. He took off seventeen suits altogether! And then, there he was, dressed in the gaudiest and most flamboyant outfit you ever saw. He started beating the horse with his whip and made him run even faster. Then he jumped off the horse, took a bow, and danced off to the dressing room with everyone howling with laughter and astonishment.

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