from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

A favorite setting for a children's story is the circus, and following analligator that sneaks about the grounds searching for an adventure offersthe listener a sense of involvement.

The circus is in town. All the boys and girls and their mothers and fathers are excited by the posters and the circus parades along Main Street.

Abercrombie, the alligator, wants to visit the circus. The morning the circus opens, Abercrombie rises from his nest in the riverbank mud, climbs on to his bicycle, and sets off for town. He has lots of friends atthe circus, and they like to have him visit with them.

Abercrombie also has a secret plan, but we won't talk about that yet. First we'll introduce a few of Abercrombie's friends.

One of Abercrombie's close friends at the circus is JoJo, the juggler. JoJo juggles three plates or, sometimes, three bottles.

Then there is Jingo, the jester, who struts along the circus Midway, looking important. He's OK, though.

Abercrombie also has friends among the clowns who do somersaults and fancy rolls, and play violins as they do their tricks. He knows the elephants that ride around the ring on huge, funny looking bicycles and the jugglers and clowns and elephants that enjoy making children laugh.

Finally, there is Bumble, the Bee. Bumble is the Circus Ringmaster. He buzzes from one place to another in the circus rink, telling people what to do and when to do it. He's bossy, but he's OK, too.

Let's return to Abercrombie. He has been planning his secret adventure for a long time.

We see him close to the circus tent with colored flags flying from the top. He sniffs the air and smells the popcorn, and he hears the booming of the drums and the blaring of the trumpets. Crowds of children and their parents are heading for the circus tents. Some of them stop to watch JoJo, the juggler and they laugh at JoJo jumping up and down, and twirling plates and bottles, catching them on their way up or down. It's lots of fun to watch.

Abercrombie walks up to JoJo and whispers in his ear. Then Abercrombie leaves JoJo; he's in a hurry to begin his adventure-his secret adventure.

Flattening down to the ground on his stumpy legs and arms, Abercrombie slithers into the big tent. All the boys and girls and their mothers and fathers and grandmas and grandpas fill the seats around the circular rink. They are concentrating on the clowns rolling and tumbling and standing on the heads and shoulders of other clowns. They are also watching the elephants ride their huge bicycles.

No one notices Abercrombie, and that is the way Abercrombie wants it. He doesn't want to be noticed until he is ready.

Carefully, Abercrombie works his way around a circus wagon, looking back over his shoulder to be sure he is not seen. Quickly, he climbs over a large red and white striped box, slips around a corner and, fast as an alligator can, he wiggles up, over the side and into an orange-colored barrel.

He waits inside the barrel. He peeks out through a bunghole in its side. He does not see or hear anyone close by, so he knows he has not been noticed. He grins, chuckles, and gleefully rubs his palms.

Abercrombie takes another peek through the peephole. The way is clear. Taking a deep breath, he tightens his muscles, and leaps out of the barrel.

Rearing up on to his hind legs, his heavy tail straight out behind him Abercrombie dashes into and across the circus rink. His stumpy arms wave furiously, and his head is high and wags from side to side for balance. His legs pump and pound so fast they look blurry, like bicycle spokes when the wheels turn fast.

Bumble, the Bee, Ringmaster of the circus, sees Abercrombie racing across the ring and the direction in which he is heading.

'Stop, stop,' he shouts.

Abercrombie pays no attention. He reaches a ladder attached to a red and white pole on the side of the center ring. The top of the pole is close to the tent's peak, and that's really high. A ladder is fastened to the pole all the way to the top.

Abercrombie wraps his stumpy arms around the pole and begins to climb the ladder. He climbs and he climbs. Finally, he is at the very top and stands on a tiny platform. Abercrombie leans out and twists his head to look at the crowd far below.

The crowd is silent. They stare up, watching Abercrombie high up on the tiny perch. Bumble, the Ringmaster, stands at the bottom of the pole and shakes his fist up at him.

Abercrombie's secret ambition is that ever since he first attending a circus he wanted to swing from a trapeze-a circus trapeze. The tiny platform to which he climbed has a trapeze fastened to its railing. The trapeze is now a few inches from where Abercrombie is standing.

No one can stop him now.

Abercrombie unties the trapeze, grasps the bar with both hands and takes a deep breath. He looks down at the crowd once more and gripping the trapeze tight, leaps from the platform. Away he G O E S!

Oh, what an adventure! What AN ADVENTURE! Back and forth, back and forth from one side of the huge tent to the other.

First, Abercrombie holds on with both hands, then he holds on with one hand and waves to the crowd below with the other. He twists and he turns, then holds to the bar with only his teeth and waggles both arms and stumpy hind legs. To cap that, he does somersaults and back flips, and then twists himself so that he catches the bar with his hands, his feet, and his teeth. Once, even with his tail!

The boys and the girls and the mothers and the fathers and the grandmas and the grandpas watch Abercrombie from far below. They shout and laugh and clap their hands. They're having a wonderful time, too.

Well, as you can imagine, after a while Abercrombie gets tired. It's time to rest. He takes a few more swings, does a somersault and a back flip, and catches the rail on the tiny platform where he started. He ties the trapeze back to the railing, and climbs down.

When he steps away from the ladder at the bottom, the crowd welcomes him with smiles, shouts, and clapping hands. Even Bumble, the Ringmaster, is happy to see him and they shake hands.

Abercrombie waves to the crowd and makes his way to where he left his bicycle. He heads for home.

Arriving home, he enjoys his supper and, as he is very tired, he puts on his red pajamas and slips into his nest on the riverbank.

As he closes his eyes he says, 'I sure had a fine adventure today.'

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