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SHARP EYES IN THE ZOO
THE train in which Sharp Eyes, the silver fox, was riding had stopped so the engine could get a drink of water, and it happened to stop near the circus tent, which was the white thing Sharp Eyes had thought was the large house. So the fox had time to talk to the big animal who had spoken in such a friendly way.
“Oh, so that is a circus, is it?” asked Sharp Eyes. “Seems to me I have heard that name before. I wonder where it was? But who are you, may I ask, and why have you two tails?”
“There it goes again!” cried the big creature. “Every one who sees me for the first time thinks I have two tails. Even Chunky, the happy hippo, thought that.”
“Oh, Chunky! That’s where I heard the word circus before. Don, the dog, told me that Chunky was once in a circus before he was put in a park menagerie.”
“Oh, ho! So you know Don, the dog, do you?” asked the big animal who belonged to the circus.
“Yes,” answered Sharp Eyes, “I do. Don once helped me to get out of a pinching trap. But no one helped me out of the trap where the rooster was. That’s why I’m here now.”
“What is your name?” asked the big animal. The fox told and then inquired:
“And what is your name, if you please, and why have you two tails?”
“I haven’t,” was the answer. “That’s a mistake. I am Turn Turn, the jolly elephant, and one of the dingle-dangle-down things is my trunk, in which I pick up peanuts. The other is my tail.”
“Oh, I see!” exclaimed Sharp Eyes. “So you are Turn Turn! I think I heard Slicko, the squirrel, speak of you.”
“Yes, we are good friends.”
“And Don often mentioned you,” went on the silver fox. “But it seems to me he said you had left the circus, and had gone back to the jungle to help catch and train wild elephants.”
“I did,” answered Turn Turn. “I was there for a while. But now I am back in the circus again. It was while I was on a sort of visit to the jungle that I met Chunky, the happy hippo, and pulled him out of a mud hole.”
“And where is Chunky now?” asked Sharp Eyes. “I would like to see him.”
“He was with this circus,” answered Turn Turn, the elephant, “but now he is in the park zoo, or menagerie, as they call it to be stylish. Did Don tell you how Chunky saved a little girl who fell into his tank?”
“Yes,” answered Sharp Eyes, “he did. Chunky must be real smart.”
“Well, not as smart as a fox, for I have heard that they are very smart and cunning,” returned the elephant. “But still Chunky does very well. He can do tricks, and he has had a book written about him.”
“There it goes again!” cried Sharp Eyes. “Every one seems to be in a book; but I’m not.”
“Maybe you will be some day,” said Turn Turn. “You are young yet. But tell me — why did they catch you and put you in a box on a train? Can you do circus tricks?”
“No,” replied the fox. “But they think my silver fur is worth much money. That’s why they caught me. I wish I was red or brown, and then they wouldn’t bother me so. But silver foxes are rare, they say.”
“I believe they are,” went on the elephant. “I have been in a circus a long while and I never saw a silver fox before, nor are there any in the zoological park, where Chunky lives.
“But I must be going,” went on Turn Turn, the jolly elephant. “I have to push some of the heavy wagons around the circus lot. They always call on me for that, as I am so strong. I hope you’ll have a nice time where you are going.”
“I don’t expect to have,” answered Sharp Eyes. “It is no fun to be shut up in a cage. I wish I could walk around loose, like you.”
“I guess I’m too big to be in a cage,” said Turn Turn, “though they have sort of cages for elephants in the parks. Well, good-bye! Maybe I’ll see you again.”
“I hope so,” replied Sharp Eyes, who liked the big, jolly chap.
So the elephant went to push the circus wagons, and the train puffed away with the silver fox.
All the while, as the train rumbled on, Sharp Eyes wondered where he was being taken.
“If my silver fur is worth so much,” thought Sharp Eyes, “I suppose they are carrying me to some place where they can take it off. I shall not like that. I want my fur left on. I’ll be cold in the winter without my nice fur coat.”
Sometimes hunting dogs were brought into the same car with Sharp Eyes. The dogs became very much excited when they saw the fox in his cage, and barked at him. But they could not get at him, for the cage was made of heavy wire. Still, Sharp Eyes did not like to be barked at.
“Why don’t you be quiet and let me alone?” he asked the dogs, in animal talk.
“Oh, we are hunting dogs and we always bark at a fox,” said one of the dogs.
“Well, I have a dog friend named Don, and he doesn’t bark at me,” went on the silver fox.
“We don’t know Don,” said the hunting dogs, and they barked louder than ever.
Once a monkey in a cage was brought into the same car with Sharp Eyes. The monkey did not seem happy, but crouched in a corner.
“Who are you, where are you going and what’s the matter?” asked Sharp Eyes.
“My name is Chacko,” answered the monkey, “and I am being taken to a zoological park.”
“Well, don’t feel sad about that,” advised Sharp Eyes. “I have heard of a hippo named Chunky who is in a zoo, and he is very happy.”
“Has he the toothache?” asked Chacko.
“I don’t believe he has,” answered Sharp Eyes.
“No wonder he is happy then,” went on the monkey. “I have the toothache very bad.”
“I’m sorry,” said Sharp Eyes. “I wish I could help you, but I can’t get out of my cage. Did you ever hear of Mappo, a merry monkey?”
“Has he the toothache?” asked Chacko.
“I hardly think he has,” the fox answered.
“Well, then I don’t know him,” said the other, holding his paw up to his jaw. “I never heard of Mappo.”
“Turn Turn, or some of the animal friends I have met, spoke of him,” said Sharp Eyes. “He likes cocoanuts I believe.”
“Oh, we monkeys all do,” said Chacko. “But I couldn’t eat any now, on account of my tooth. However, I don’t know Mappo.”
Sharp Eyes talked a little while longer to Chacko, to try to make the little furry chap forget his troubles, and the monkey did for a time. Then Sharp Eyes went to sleep.
Sharp Eyes was suddenly awakened by feeling his cage lifted up and set down again. The fox could feel the wind blowing on him, and he knew he must be outside the train. But he liked the fresh air.
“I wonder where I am?” he inquired, partly aloud.
“We are on a wagon, being ridden through the streets of a big city,” answered Chacko, the monkey, who was on the same wagon as Sharp Eyes, but in a different cage. The monkey’s toothache was better now.
“What’s a city?” asked Sharp Eyes.
“Oh,” answered the monkey, “it’s a place where they have more houses than there are trees in the woods, but I don’t like it. Once I was in a city park menagerie, and I never got half enough peanuts. I don’t like the noise, either.”
There was a great deal of noise as the wagon, with the cages of Sharp Eyes and Chacko on it, rattled through the streets.
At last the wagon turned into a quieter place, where there was much green grass and many trees.
“Oh! are they taking me back home again?” asked Sharp Eyes aloud, as he saw the trees. “This looks a little like my home,” and he looked down from the wagon, hoping to see a hollow tree.
“No, this is not the forest,” said Chacko, the monkey. “This is a menagerie, or zoo. I remember the place. I lived here a number of years ago. I am glad to be back, for here the children give you many peanuts. They don’t feed them all to the squirrels.”
“And so this is a zoo, is it?” asked Sharp Eyes.
“Yes, that’s what it is,” answered the monkey. “We’ll soon be put in larger cages, where the boys’ and girls can see us. You’ll like it in the zoo, Sharp Eyes.”
“I hope I shall,” returned the silver fox. “Oh, there is my friend Turn Turn!” he cried, as he caught sight of an elephant