When Mum Went Funny

When Mum Went Funny by Jack Lasenby Read Free Book Online

Book: When Mum Went Funny by Jack Lasenby Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jack Lasenby
back in, she said, “Some kids try to crawl under the canvas walls, but I fix them!” She ran her wheelchair back and forth to show how. Kate grabbed my hand and towed me back to our seats, but I thought of Mum’s head, when she stuck it under the wall, and her yelp.
    “Look!” said Jimmy and Betty. The white horse was pulling an iron cage into the middle of the ring. The Ringmaster took off his top hat, and a couple of men stood by with shiny steel spears. Something huge moved in the back of the cage. There was silence, then a booming cough and roar. Everybody looked up because the sound seemed to come from the top of the tent.
    “Ladies and Gents!” said the Ringmaster. “This Dangerous Performance Has Never Ever Been TriedBefore in the Southern Hemisphere. At Immense Personal Risk to My Life, I am About to Enter the Savage Lion’s Cage – Bare-Handed and Unarmed!”
    Everybody shrieked.
    “I Shall Attempt to Control the Lion with Only My Hypnotic Stare!”
    We gasped and wriggled. A drum rolled, and the clowns ran up and tried to talk the Ringmaster out of getting in with the lion. Everyone was silent, as they burst out crying real tears, and everybody in the tent heard Jimmy’s voice saying, “Please don’t go in there!” Everyone laughed, and the Ringmaster seemed angry.
    “How would you like to be fed to the lion?” he hissed at Jimmy, who hid behind Kate.
    The drum beat louder. The men opened the door, and the Ringmaster climbed inside the cage. We could see a huge shape in the back of the cage. Another angry roar came from somewhere above our heads again.
    A moment later, I opened my eyes, peeped between my fingers, and saw the Ringmaster leap out, and the clowns slam the door shut. Just in time, because the lion rushed and shook the bars with its claws and would have eaten him, the Ringmaster said in his loud voice. They started dragging the cage outside again.
    “That’s not a lion,” Mum said in a loud voice. “It’s somebody dressed up in a piece of old carpet!” We tried to hold her back, but she climbed into the ring. “I’m going to get into the lion’s cage!” she said. “I want to put my head in his mouth.”
    But the Ringmaster cracked his whip at Mum’s feet, the horse dragged the cage out the door into the darkness , the drum beat, a trumpet blew, the trapeze artists swung above our heads, and the clowns tripped Mum and sooled the little dog on to her.
    As she climbed back over the low wall, the Ringmaster cracked his whip and announced that the lion had told him he was scared Mum was going to tell him to put his head into her mouth, and everybody laughed.
    Kate got the giggles. Jimmy and Betty hung on to Mum’s hands and looked proud of her, but I felt a bit embarrassed till I saw Billy Kemp staring at her, and knew he was thinking she was pretty brave, so I felt better then.
    There was a Grand Parade with all the clowns and the Ringmaster, and the old woman in the wheelchair, and the Amazing Macaronis, and some kids younger than Jimmy and Betty, and a zebra who looked like Old Pomp painted with black and white stripes. And then, best of all, there was a funny, squeaky, trumpety noise.
    One minute the big door was empty; the next, an elephant swayed there. It must have tip-toed in, but it didn’t have proper toes, just big round feet like drums. It had tusks, though Mum reckoned they were false ones strapped on with a harness, but you couldn’t see because he wore hangings “like big tablecloths” as Jimmy said.
    On top of the elephant’s head rode a dark-skinnedboy about my age. He wore a turban with a huge red stone in it that Mum said was a ruby. His teeth shone white, he carried a gold staff that had a spear and a hook at one end, and he prodded the elephant so it curled up its trunk and trumpeted right in front of where we were sitting.
    It lumbered around the ring, its backside covered with loose skin like grey pyjamas miles too big. It trumpeted once more, and

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