Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/118

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92
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

greatest drag on the speed of the terrified procession would have been the camels and elephants. So thought the boss, but no sooner did the driver of the elephants get into position on the back of old Romeo and give that knowing creature an idea of what was expected, than he saw his mistake.

The way in which both the elephants and camels swung themselves over the ground was a revelation to all who saw them. Which was the more pitiful and terrifying, the trumpeting of the elephants or the squealing of the camels, was difficult to tell.

As the awful scroll of the fire rolled closer upon us the ungainly bodies of the camels and elephants swayed from one side to the other until they seemed fairly to vibrate.

"Where is the river? Are we nearing the stream? Can we make the water?" These were the questions in the mind of every person in that long wagon train. Sometimes they were yelled from one driver to another, but the only answer was to lay the lash harder on the backs of the poor horses pulling the heavy wagons and chariots—leaping and straining like so many modern fire department animals responding to an alarm. It was a genuine chariot race—in which the stake was life and