Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Chapter


If I talked about vocation, the reader would be "in right to astonish itself and to smile, since, the first time that I penetrated in the cage to the lions, I already had thirty-five years.

Doubtless, since my sixteenth year, not I had lived that circus life. I already had visited with "the people travels" most of the countries of Europe and the forty-eight 'States of America, I had presented my bar numbers set up and of acrobatics to all sorts of publics, of Marseilles to Copenhagen and to Madrid, in front of the subjects of Guillaume It and the citizens of Gauged, but nothing left to foresee the career that went sudden to offer itself to me.
How am I therefore become tamer?
It was to Mexico, to Nuevo Laredo, an evening of March 1917, on time where the crowd, composed in majority of Indian ones, filled the circus that I directed then. The spectacle had unfolded itself normal, the recipe, in beautiful pesos of now and of money, surpassed even my anticipations and the editors took entr'acte advantage to install solidly on the track the central cage intend for the big cats.

One came to say me to the ear that Sam, the tamer, was all simply drunk death. What to do? All was ready, the spectators regained their places. It was necessary to take an immediate decision.

Going out of the lodging of the drunkard, I GENERAL IDEAS to earth, on a board, of huge neighborhoods of red one surpassing of a canvas.
Notifying helps it tamer that climbed the guard in front of these beefsteaks:

- And you, do I say for him, you are the boy of Sam? Did you never work with these lions? Not you can, for an evening, take the place of your employer?

- Oh! no! it launched, frightened, these lions are well too mean. And I know them scarcely. I do not work for Mr. Sam that since a month.
- And this meat, what is this?
- THIS IS the meal of the big cats. Mr. Sam gives to them to eat after the work. I reflect an instant. Suddenly, it came me an idea. I say to the cage boy:
- Take this wheelbarrow, load meat over and follow me.
When we were in the middle of the cage, central, the poor boy not yet had not understood.
- The meal of the big cats, I say for him, one will do it here
- Impossible! The lions are got used to to eat alone. If one gives them the meat of this manner, they go s'entretuer themselves!
One will see well, was all my response.

Visionary that it hesitated, I take myself cart it, I poured his load in the middle of the track and did signs to the orchestra to attack. When the noisy piece of music, prelude to the second party of the program, was finishes, opening the door of the central cage, I entered on the track. The public, that took me for the tamer, applauds strongly. I raised the hand in order to obtain the silence and I announced:
- Ladies, sirs, our tamer having been kept to the border by American authorities, the lion number will be able to begin only tomorrow or day after tomorrow.
There was a murmur. Elevant voice, I continued
- But you anyway will attend a sensational spectacle, that usually never give us in public: the meal of the big cats!

I go out of the cage, closing the door behind me and the orchestra attacked the number music. While Sam, dead drunk, was spread in his lodging, sleeping it off his alcohol, I had the doors got up to slides of the clogs and pass the lions in the central cage. Stretching itself they entered to not slow, after one another, then, sudden, the one of them appeared to awaken in start.

Of a leap, it precipitated himself on the meat pile, seizes a piece to plain mouth and went while roaring to huddle in a track corner. Instantly, the three other lions imitated it. Two of them seized themselves of a huge haunch of horse, the one pulling on one hand, other other; they delivered themselves thus a frenzied battle, roaring, loosening and resuming to role turn this piece of meat, the hairs their black flying mane in the air by packages! The one of them, the meat in the mouth, did a fantastic leap, almost to the cage top. There was a cry in the room, a panic beginning, but that was short-lived. The other lion, following closely his opposing one, jumped for him over, him mordit the tail to full teeth and both of them fell again heavily in the arena. The central cage staggered and I believed that she was going to fold herself

In wallet; at last, after five minutes of wild fight, each, having finally his party, the devoured to beautiful teeth. The finished meal, the scuffle recommenced for the possession of the bones and it is only a quarter of hour later, by blows of pulled guns to white, that we pûmes to do to reintegrate to the lions their clogs where they arrived the bloodied mouth, the flanks lacerated by the claws.

Never had seen I not a similar brawl, the publishes not more. No one appeared to regret that the lions had not worked. This spectacle exciting had produced, in front of this publishes to wild half, a real sensation.

Evenings same, I addressed a telegram to the owner of the number of lions to New York: "Number could not be presented. Dead drunk tamer at the work. Send immediately other tamer, otherwise terminates contract."

The next day, around eleven o'clock in the morning, while arriving to the circus, I found the tamer all sheepish one, sit close to its lions. As soon as it m'aperçut me, it came to find me, desirous to be sorry.

- I telegraphed È your employer, I say, so that it does or send another tamer. I do not like the drunkards.

It swore its big gods that that would not arrive for him more. I accepted its excuse and, curtly, the defendant that if it relapsed, I would dismiss them, him and its lions.

In city, everyone talked about this meal of the big cats as on the part the most sensational one of the whole program. Also, when we announced that the number of big cats would be given in morning, the room was fills.

All avenue for the better; the four superb lions entered in cage and executed their number, brief training, to the truth: a lion jumped through a hoop, another came to go to bed in the middle of the arena to the feet of the tamer that opened him the mouth and dove his head inside. All were soft and perfectly docile, except one, Nero, the biggest, most beautiful animal to black mane that finished the number.

The tamer, remaining alone with Nero in the cage, armed itself of a chair and, holding his whip of the other hand, cornered the lion roaring against the cage, then, giving to him three or four blows of whip, backed up sharply behind; the lion- crossed the worse you in two leaps, jumped

Heading for the tamer that, to his turn, leaned to the cage, defended itself with his chair. The lion bit it, roared, then, loosening taken, returned to huddle in another corner of the arena. This exercise, that was part of training, repeated itself two or three times until the chair were in pieces; then, the tamer, going out his gun, pulled to boils carrying in the lion mouth.

At this point in time, one opened the door to slide by which the lion precipitated itself, his finished work.

While Sam worked, sit opposite him in a lodging, I looked at this number, doubly interested. First, because I liked the big cats and, also, because I was said:

(That drank will drink. If, in a big city, a day of inauguration, Sam falls dead drunk, it will be necessary although someone takes his place."

I had as,, a premonition that this would be me... Between time, I had received a telegram of New York announcing me that one could not send to me another tamer, that we had ourselves to oversee Sam and to prevent it from drink.

Sitôt the finished morning, the tamer asked me the permission to repeat, for one of the lions, doubtless frightened by the new setting, had refused to be anxious his place in the "pyramid" foreseen. One resettled the central cage.

I attended the repetition: the pyramid formed itself to the perfection and I J'épiai all the movements of the tamer. Sam says me sudden:

- Employer, if you want to come with me in the cage, I will take you in photo, facing the lions; that will do you a beautiful one to remember.

The devil did not imagine to which not at all his suggestion pleased me.

If there is not any danger, I say, I want well.

It sent his boy to look for a kodak, then, approaching the door, half-opens it and I slipped myself in the cage.

- Take, he says me, this chair in hand. Only Nero, the big one to black mane, is dangerous. If it approaches, back up of two steps and hold the chair in front of you. It will bite inside and will leave, being erected to this "thing". Have no fear, I am there and you will protect to the need.

I had not fear, but all these recommendations has matter of Nero gave to me a little to reflect. We passed in the front stools on which these the lions had to do their first pyramid.

Calmly sit on their respective stools, the lions set up me, the air, astonished, with of big rather likable eyes; only Nero did the grimace, and had a sly look. My chair in hands, I follow the tamer, judging prudent to leave it lace up between the lions and me. No budged; arrived opposite Nero, Sam approached saying some for him: "Nero, be has nice houseboy!" (1), then touched for him kindly it boils nose with the sleeve of his whip. Nero pushed a roaring, launched a violent blow of paw, pulled out the whip of the hands of Sam and did mines to want descend of his stool. Instinctively, I did two steps behind and me general ideas that my heart beat strong... I not then to say that I had actually Fear, but this roaring undergoes and this attack threat had surprised me. We remained there ten minutes to take photos. The tamer called his lion more soft, "Caesar", that came

nonchalamment to go to bed to its feet; it appeared so docile that, mustering my courage and approaching me the

(1) Be a good boy.

Tamer, the wines in the middle of the track and caressed his heavy mane. It seemed to like that, me also, I had it. At last, Sam sent back its lions and we went out of the cage.

The next day evening, I follow again more attentively the work and especially observed how Sam did it to open the mouth of Caesar. This apprenticeship was brief, for, two days later, the tamer was again drunk death per hour of representation and I had the

Dismiss. For a sum of four thousand pesos, his employer sold me the lions, and, with a light supplement, I obtained, in the middle of the property, one of the suits of the tamer and its whips.

This is as well as a too fervent disciple of Bacchus gave, without wanting it, a new orientation to my destiny. Already, I had the certainty that with prudence and a lot of patiences I would arrive so although poorly to present this lion number, but I was far to doubt me while the training of the big cats would become the passion more durable of my life.

The same week, the most precious one of the encouragements had given me by an unknown one that revealed itself quickly man of experience. We had just installed the circus to Monterrey, rather extensive city, more than to burned half during the revolution of 1911, covered again of ruins, and tolerably to the abandonment. A giant approaching the fifty, all dressed of white one and groomed of a huge sombrero, advanced itself towards me and asked me in Spaniard if I was well the director of the circus.

Then, stretching me the hand, it presented himself:

- I am gift Trevino, son of the general Trevino, former director of the big circus Trevino.

Without giving me the time to speak, always holding my hand in his solid grip, it added:

- How it does itself that you called your circus "Circo Européo?"

This is well simple. Except my associate, we are all Europeans. Me, for example, I am French.

- You are French! exclaimed itself it. Ah! It is unbelievable! But me also. I am of bordeaux.

Then, taking me in its arms, squeezing me against him, as if j was his son, it kissed me and began crying.

Evenings same, gift Trevino voulut to have us to dine, mine and me. It came to look for us to the door of the circus and, in a hackney cab of hitched luxury of two beautiful horses, we left for the small trot in the night.

On the way, the of bordeaux related:

- THIS IS the only hackney cab that remains me. I in had sixty. One me all took.

The horses were my passion, all the money that I won in the circus, I employed it to buy hackney cabs and horses, in cash thus to assure my old days. Before the revolution, the three quarters of the hackney cabs of Monterrey were at me.

This is during the soup that gift Trevino told us his history, in my opinion rather extraordinary:

About 1870, the father of gift Trevino, of which I do not know the name, for his son never said it for me and I never asked it for him, carnival fighter of his trade, left Bordeaux to attempt fortune to Mexico, taking his son of age seven or eight years. It installed first a shack of 1UTTE Roman. Its matters prospered and at the end of some months, it created a small carnival circus that undertook turns through Mexico. To Mexico, the general Trevino, the one of the first lieutenants of Porfirio Diaz and big amateur of circus and of horses, secured itself friendship with the of bordeaux one that, shortly after, died to vera-cruz, taken by the yellow fever. The general. Trevino, widower and without children, adopted the small French, gave him his name and did for him to assure a good education. At the age of eighteen years scarcely, gift Trevino junior, supported financially by the general, climbed a circus that, in some years, became the more imported one of Mexico. Later, fortune done, father of considered family, it installed himself to Monterrey. The revolution of 1911 was for him fatal. A day that it was at table with his family, a band of maniacs invades the house: his woman was killed, outlaws seized themselves of his girl and removed it. Gift Trevino tried to intervene: it was cut down to blows of gun and sagged itself to the feet of his son. This one succeeded in flee. The house was burned, but gift Trevino, that was only fainted, resumed its direction, put to lead itself outside the flames and friends took it. Well cared for, it was on foot some months later; during weeks, it looked for everywhere its children, learned that his son was himself refugee in Colombia, but of his girl it sut never anything.

I lost the reason, we it said, and I remained more than six month to wander as a beast. I was without money, and lived of begging. Then I returned here; all had been pillaged. I myself general ideas nevertheless that no one had discovered the entry of my cellar, where I pus descend by a laid out trap door in the kitchen. She was intact. This is for that that I then, tonight, you to offer champagne. I had foreseen the revolution, and, in this cellar, I had buried a reserve of now rather important...

"Descended in the cellar, the memory returned me; I went to the hiding place of the casket: it always was there. I repurchased a car of which I was myself to check it. The hurricane had passed, no one took care of me. Since, I struggle, but the casket, little by little, empties itself

I will must look for a trade."

Thus, as early as the next day, by the track, I had the luck to have at my disposal an authorized critic It offered himself to me under the types and the strong shoulders of gift Trevino, for I no longer thought than to my lions. Without nothing to say to person, I had established my plans and decided of

Repeat evenings same. Finished representation, I had the central cage climbed and advance the clogs of the big cats. In the lodging of the artists, I clothe the suit bought year tamer drunkard, suit of cow-boy fantasy, black and adorned of money that went me as a glove. This outfit gave me confidence. "Thus clothed, I said me, if I there go straight, while imitating of my better the movements of Sam, the lions will take me for him. ..” When all was ready, a not very nervous one, I had it, I entered into the central cage, slamming whip to give me courage. I was not very expert, but I knew to give a good straight blow, that, if it did not serve to anything, did the noise. Placing me in the middle of the track behind the big pyramid, that, in case of attacks subite, could protect me, I ordered to the boy of cage to get up the door to slides. When I live to enter opposite me the three first lions, I had a small shiver and me general ideas that I had hen flesh. The lions stretched themselves. They had not the air to take care of my modest person. All three, to not slow, directed themselves towards the left; being anxious me good distance, I take the opposed direction and Caesar, the most docile one, went to bed of all long sound and rolled itself on the back. The others gaze at themselves to play together. I never had seen them in these calm attitudes, but the position risked s'éterniser itself. Mustering all my courage, I did two steps towards them while screaming: Take your seais! (1). In time that I gave a good blow of whip in the air. I had spotted one of the big close stools of the pyramid, behind which I could shelter myself if the lions rushed on me. To my call, the lengthened big cats facts a jump, as moved by a spring, and all three parties to the gallop. Spinning in front of the pyramid, hang that, cautiously, I passed behind, each avenue to sit on his stool.

(1) Take your places.

This first maneuver reassured me. "They are not so terrible that that I thought; it is necessary to be energetic!" Reassured henceforth, I took a walk to some meters in front of the lions, slamming whip gently calling each by his name.

All followed me by the look, look interested non ferocious May. They seemed to wonder: "Is this Sam, or not?"

Little by little, I approached them until to caress for them kindly it boils nose with whip Sleeve, as I had see it to do to the tamer. When I touched them thus, repeating their name, each replied by an oua-ah" that, doubtless, expressed their satisfaction.

Encouraged, I went to place myself on the left, behind one of the big stools, then I say to the cage boy:

Send Nero!

I stiffened myself, not knowing too what it was going to do and which myself I was going to do if, as early as his entry, it loaded me. Scarcely it was entered, that I did a step forward, slamming whip and screaming: "Take your seat." Of a leap, while roaring, it passed in front of the pyramid and, while grumbling, went to sit on his stool. I follow it, but, noticing me that my legs trembled lightly, I stopped myself behind, the big placed stool to some meters opposite him. Of there, the calling again by his name, I showed him by far the sleeve of my whip. A tremendous roaring was his response. "Bad character!" I thought. Cautiously, I passed in front of the stool, not leaving? Nero of the eyes and, with my voice more soft, I started with this recalcitrant boarder a small conversation

-Nero, Nero, be has nice houseboy...

It seemed to understand turned his huge head to right and to the left, did the grimace, blinked eyes, showed the teeth while muttering, but no longer roared...

Returning in front of the pyramid, I took a walk from afar in front of the lions, gave two or three light blows of whip in the air. Their big eyes were pointed on me, followed my evolutions. No big cat budged.

Bolder and taking my gun in hand, I gave abruptly a blow of dry whip that resounded in the silence.

Nero descended quickly of his stool. An instant, I believed that it was going to rush on me and got ready me to him to unload my gun in the middle of the mouth... Climbing of a leap on the one of the big intermediary stools, it jumped of there on the central pyramid, where it stopped himself net., roaring the whole force of its lungs.

Thus, without that I order for him nothing, it had, alone, begun his work! Immediately that it had perched himself on his pyramid, it himself calm. Trying to remind me the gestures of the tamer, I arrived thus to place the four beasts in pyramid, which constituted the first face of the number.

To not anything to hide, I already felt, in this cage, almost at my place. Always trying to repeat of my better the gestures of Sam, I reflect an instant. What did it when the lions were in pyramid? It left first on the right, to do descend together the three calm lions, then, these installed to their primitive place, it passed on the left to do descending Nero.

Yes, it was well that. All gently, I directed myself towards the right, the whip slamming and ordered: "Take your scats!" Together, the three lions rejoignirent their stool of sit. Nero, placed all in top, budged not.

I passed then to the left, placing me behind him and I screamed: "Nero, take your seat!." Nero scolded but not at all budged. I took a walk an instant in front of the pyramid, all saying some for him: "Nero, be has nice houseboy!" then, returning towards the left, I did a new essay, doing this time to slam strongly my whip. Nero retorted by a vigorous roaring, but remained on his perchoir.

Perplexed, I approached the cage edge to wipe my face streaming sweat and Johny, the boy of Sam, had the spirit to say me if you want that Nero descends, I believe that it is necessary to give to him a light blow of whip on, the buttocks...

I never had noticed, that Sam in wore thus, except at the end of the number. What to do? I was in the dance, it was necessary to dance. I resume therefore my position and, at the same time that I screamed the order, I tried to give to Nero a blow of whip... I lacked it. Second essay, I lacked it again... Nero, up there, always roared. I never had heard it to grumble so strong. I end up to lose my self-control. and, approaching me more near, a little too near this time, shot for him a violent blow of whip. Of a single leap, reversing the pyramid, Nero jumped and crossed the track to the gallop I did even in feels opposed... It took not care at all of me. But, roaring to let the canvass tremble, it went to sit on his stool.

Ouf! I collected the heavy pyramid, overseeing my corner sly devil of the eye. Its huge paws trembled. As a flash a thought crossed me the spirit: in this trade, someone must be afraid, the lions or the tamer. It is more better than this be the lions! I had found the "key".

I approached the cage to resume breath and Johny says me:

- If you always present the number of this manner, it will do more effect than the one of Mr. Sam.

- Maybe, but, for the moment, I present nothing. The lions present themselves only. This are them that show me what I have to do; but is more sufficient for tonight.

Tempting, the cage boy followed

- You should try to let Sultan jump. It jumps all alone!

- Is Which Sultan?

When I had it spotted, I removed the heavy pyramid of the environment and placed my intermediary stools to the desired distance for the jump.

There, I carefully had observed Sam. To the first essay, Sultan, of a leap, crossed the half of the track and came to replace itself on his stool of sit.

Now, while Johny got ready to let the lions go out, mechanically, I called them one to one by their name. Caesar descended of his stool, stretched itself while yawning then came towards me to not slow. Instinctively I backed up. It spread himself of all long sound in track breadth. If I had not backed up, it would have spread himself to my feet.

It was, in fact, the moment where Caesar had to execute "this thing", and to the call of his name, without doing itself to pray, it had come to me! These beasts knew really better their work than their improvised tamer.

Cautiously, I approached him and, with the whip sleeve first, with the hand next, I caressed his mane, then his head. I already had caressed it once, when I had entered into the cage with Sam: we no longer were unknown. Impossible it seemed to me that this good beast offended itself. Effectively, Caesar put to even the ground his huge inferior jaw, awaiting doubtless that I open him the mouth and puts my head inside. We not some were there! After some hand strokes, I backed up of a step, as did it Sam, and I had the whip slammed in the air. Phlegmatic, Caesar got up and regained his place.

To the order, the tunnel door opens, the three lions crossed the track and went to spread themselves in their respective clog. Nero, muttering, remained on his seat...

Placing me opposed side, I believed that Nero takes out all alone. The pointed eyes on me, doing the grimace, it followed me everywhere of the look, pretence not to see that the door was opened. It awaited unquestionably to be ordered, to execute his "call", his "thing" final one.

I in had cold sweats: that not. more, I, had not foreseen it! Mustering my energy, I passed to I REAR and, desirous of some to finish, I solidly seize in my left hand the chair that was there. Without more to await, I went to plant myself in an oblique direction, to three meters in front of him. Then, screaming brutally his name, at the same time that I slammed whip, I awaited the events. Abruptly, Nero rushed on me, the open mouth and, roaring, gave two or three blows of paw against the chair.

I backed up so sharply that it had not the possibility of me there to cling to. It came towards me as a racing car and I believed a moment that it would not stop himself. But, the moment I was cornered to the cage, it stopped himself net, turned abruptly to return to his stool. It aperçut then carries it big opened and, changeable of direction, crossed the track in two leaps, went to huddle in his clog and the door fell again behind him.

I remained there, stupid, in the middle of the track, my chair of a hand, my other whip, the heart beating very strong and streaming sweat.

Gift Trevino, my woman and all the boys of track applauded. Small intimate success! The first one of this new career that had, for twenty-five years, to captivate me!

With the of bordeaux accent rediscovered, gift Trevino says me:

- Does No joke! Did you already work with of tawny others?

But not...

One would say that you did that all your life. You can begin tomorrow, if you want.

To true to say, I knew only to think. In this first repetition, I had, or rather the lions had done almost completely their habitual number. I not including nothing... this was nevertheless my talent of tamer!

Today, after erecting so many big cats and learn this trade to so of young tamers, I return more better count of what happened tonight there. My success was had to the observation of the gestures of the tamer of which I carried the suit. I had not bothered the lions, they had carried out their work not to not, every wheel of the mechanism being engraved in their brain as a cliché. When they turn me in the cage, clothed of the held of their tamer, walking as him, taking the even put, giving orders and blows of energetic whips, they went not counts change and employed themselves to execute quickly their work, in order to rediscover their rest. This number, that I believed difficult to the era, was such a simplicity that, ten years later, when I was an already renowned tamer, I never would have dared to present it to the publishes. But tonight there, I confess that I was enough to trust me.

The next day, I did my official beginnings of tamer, as serious as a boarder of the French Comedy. There again, gift Trevino lavished me its encouragements and we fell agreed to secure our activities to Mexico.

Henceforth, gift Trevino loaded itself with the itineraries. Preceding the circus, it chose the steps, had the high hand on advertising and, especially, was our transportation minister. For, in that time, the revolution all had disrupted and it was necessary to rent every day, to price of now, a locomotive and his mechanic. In road, the latter decided that it would not go more far, that the zone was infested rebels; one discussed the premium amount; I paid and the convoy shook itself until the next terror of the mechanic, twenty kilometers all to the more.

Every evening, my number collected the applause of the publishes. As for Caesar, I at last had discovered the means of him to open the mouth and I even had perfected a personal procedure: first, as Sam, I seized Caesar in the front of the muzzle, just to the under superior lips; but I noticed that, the holding thus, nothing prevented it from close his geule if it wanted some. I looked for a means to eliminate this risk. An evening, where I wanted to hold him the open mouth a long time, for well to show to the spectators its huge fangs, I attempted an experience. The moment it tried to close its jaws, I pushed with my thumbs the side of its big lips hanging on the teeth behind of its fangs, the lion feels while it bit himself the lips and reopens the "beak" while muttering. Also a long time as I maintained with my thumbs a light pressure on the lips of Caesar, there remained the big open mouth, grumbling without stop. Thing that it never had done with Sam. The next day, for the first time, I introduced my head in the huge gaping mouth of Caesar. Oh! not a long time! for I had a funny one of impression, between the jaws of the king of the animals 'obscurity was deep and the growl that ABOUT IT escaped seemed go out of the deepest and more dangerous one of the caves.