Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/207

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175
TRAINING

distinctly watching an excellent trainer working a leopard and a jaguar from start to finish. No man had ever been into the cage along with these vicious brutes before "Frenchy," as we called this crack trainer, laughingly took up his tools and slipped gracefully through the iron door which closed behind him with a sharp bang. Realizing that these animals, which were full grown, belonged to the most spiteful and treacherous of the cat kind, I scrutinized the face of Frenchy to see if I could possibly detect the slightest sign of inward anxiety or disturbance. Not the slightest evidence could I see to indicate that he approached his dangerous task with a particle more excitement than any business man feels in going to his daily work.

As he slipped into the cage he thrust before him an ordinary kitchen chair of light, hard wood. This was held in his left hand by gripping two of the central spindles of the back, thereby obtaining an excellent purchase which enabled him easily to hold the chair outstretched with its legs pointed directly at the animals. In his right hand he carried a short iron training-rod. The only other article which he used in his first lesson was a stout, movable bracket, which could be instantly