Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/208

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176
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

hooked upon any of the horizontal bars which extended the length of the cage in front.

The instant the trainer faced his pupils there was a regular feline explosion—a medley of snarls, growls and hisses. And the way those spotted paws slapped and cuffed the rounds of the extended chair which served as a shield to Frenchy's legs was something to be remembered. Never before had I seen such a startling exhibition of feline quickness as in this preliminary skirmish between master and pupils. The latter's claws seemed to be everywhere in a moment and played a lively tattoo on the shield and against the point of the rod with which the trainer protected himself. During all this excitement the trainer was as calm as if standing safely outside the cage. However, he did make some lively thrusts with his rod as the leopard attempted to dash under the legs of the chair.

While one of the beasts was engaged in carrying on an offensive warfare, the other would invariably attempt to sneak behind the trainer. How alert the latter was to the movements of the creature which apparently claimed little of his attention was impressed on me by the fact that every time the crouching animal attempted to steal past the trainer he