Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/201

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171
TRAINING

worst that is in him, and the trainer knows the limit of what to expect in that direction. But animals are not constituted that way. They are generally on their good behavior, or at least have an astonishing reserve of ferocity to be vented on the hapless trainer when the day of abnormal ill-humor comes—provided, of course, the trainer is not discerning enough to detect the gathering storm.

In no other profession is eternal vigilance so surely the price of safety. There is nothing more certain than the fate of the trainer who once relaxes the intensity of his vigilance. Just as surely as he throws himself off guard the animal he is working will get him. This is an accepted rule among those who train and perform with animals. Of course, it often appears to the outsider that the men handling ferocious animals are off their guard and non-chalantly indifferent to the creatures in the cage. But the experienced animal-man knows better. The fact that a trainer or performer allows two or three lions to pass behind his back might seem to indicate that watchfulness is not necessary, and that creatures naturally ferocious may at least sometimes be put absolutely on their good behavior—trusted with a man's life without being subjected to the