Read CHAPTER XXII - BAD NEWS of Joe Strong on the Trapeze / The Daring Feats of a Young Circus Performer, free online book, by Vance Barnum, on

Joe Strong waited until he had a chance to speak privately to the man who had admitted losing money in oil stocks. This hospital patient was a Mr. Anton Buchard, and his room was not far from Joe’s.

“Excuse me,” began the young trapeze performer in opening the talk. “But a short time ago I happened to overhear what you were telling your friend about some oil stocks the Circle City Syndicate. I didn’t mean to listen, but I couldn’t help hearing what you were saying.”

“Oh, don’t let that part worry you,” said Mr. Buchard. “It’s no secret that I lost my money in that wild-cat speculation. But are you interested in it?”

“To a certain extent I am,” Joe answered.

“I hope you didn’t buy any of the worthless stock.”

“No, but a friend of mine was induced to. That is er she she has some stock of the Circle City Oil Syndicate. It may not be the same as that you were speaking of.”

“No, that is true. There are many oil concerns in the market, and lots of them are legitimate, and are making money. But there are plenty of others which are frauds. And the one I invested in is that kind.

“Of course, as you say, it may not be the same as that in which your friend holds stock, even if it has the same name. Would you know any of the officers or directors of the concern in which your friend holds stock?”

“I’m afraid not,” Joe replied. “I did not see her stock certificates. She bought them through a law clerk named Sanford.”

Mr. Buchard shook his head.

“I don’t recognize that name,” he said. “But of course anybody could sell the stock. How did your friend ever come to be interested in this concern?”

Thereupon Joe told of Helen’s inheritance, mentioning the fact that he and she both were in the circus.

“The circus, eh!” exclaimed the man. “Well, now that’s interesting! I remember, when I was a boy, it was my great ambition to run away and join a circus. But I dare say it isn’t such a life of roses as I imagined.”

“There’s plenty of hard work,” Joe told him, “and then something like this is likely to happen to you at any time especially if you are on the trapeze,” and he motioned to the bandages still around his neck and shoulders.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” said Mr. Buchard, when Joe had finished telling of Helen’s fortune. “I’m going out of here in a couple of days. I’m getting much better that is until the next attack. I’ll get out my worthless certificates of stock in the Circle City Oil Syndicate, and bring you one. You can then see the names of the officers and directors, and can compare them with the names on Miss Morton’s stock. If they are the same it’s pretty sure to be the same company.”

“And if it is,” asked Joe, “would you advise her to sell out?”

“Sell out! My dear boy, I only hope she will be able to. I wish I had known in time I’d have sold out quickly enough. I never should have bought the stuff. But it’s too late to worry about that now. The money is lost.

“Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll bring you a stock certificate and you can compare it with Miss Morton’s when you see her. Are you going out soon?”

“In a few days, I hope. I want to get back to the circus.”

“I don’t blame you. It isn’t very cheerful here, though they do the best they can for you.”

Mr. Buchard was as good as his word. The day after he left the hospital he came back to call on Joe.

“Here’s a certificate,” he said, handing over an elaborately engraved yellow-backed sheet of paper. “Take it with you, and show it to Miss Morton.”

“Thank you,” the young trapeze performer responded. “I’ll mail yours back to you as soon as I’ve compared the names.”

“Oh, you don’t need to do that,” said Mr. Buchard with a rueful laugh. “It isn’t worth the price of a good cigar.”

Joe wrote to Helen, telling her he would soon be with the circus again, but he did not mention the stock certificate.

“There’ll be time enough to tell her when I find out if it’s the same concern,” he reasoned. “It may not be. After all, the stock Sanford sold her may be valuable.”

But Joe’s hope was a faint one.

The day came when he was able to leave the hospital. He found that not only had all bills been paid, but that there was an allowance to his credit. Helen had thought he would need money to travel with, and had left him a sum.

“Of course I’ll pay her back when I get the chance,” Joe reflected. “The circus will pay the hospital and doctor’s bills they always do. And I’ve got money enough saved up to pay Helen back.”

Joe was really making a good salary, and he was careful of his money, not wasting it as some of the more reckless performers did.

He said good-bye to his nurse, to the orderlies and to the physician who had attended him.

“Now don’t try to rush things,” the doctor warned Joe. “You must favor your neck and shoulder muscles for a couple of weeks yet. They will be lame and sore if you don’t. Take it easy, and gradually work up to your former exploits. If you do that you’ll be all right.”

Joe promised to be careful, and then, with the stock certificate safely in his pocket though it was of no value, he reflected he set out to rejoin the circus, which had moved on several hundred miles since his accident.

“I wonder if she’ll lose her money,” mused Joe, as he rode on in the train. “It would be too bad if she did. Of course it isn’t all in this oil syndicate, but enough of it is to make a big hole in her little fortune. Hang it all, if this oil stock turns out bad I’ll take that Sanford up to the top of the tent and drop him off.”

He smiled grimly at this novel form of revenge. But really he was very much in earnest.

“Something will have to be done,” Joe decided. But he did not know just what.

In due time he reached the town where the circus was showing. As Joe’s train pulled in he saw, on a siding, the big yellow cars, with the name Sampson Brothers painted on their sides. There were the flat vehicles on which the big animal cages stood, box cars for the horses and elephants and the sleeping cars in which the company traveled.

“Oh, but it’s good to get back!” exclaimed Joe.

The parade was in progress as he walked along the main street. He did not stop to watch it, having seen it often enough. Besides he was anxious to talk to Helen, and he knew he would find her at the tent at this hour, since she was not in the parade.

As Joe turned in at the circus lots he saw several of the attendants and canvasmen.

“Hello!” they called cheerily. “Glad to see you with us again!”

“And I’m glad to be back!” Joe exclaimed heartily. “How’s everything?”

“Oh, fine.”

“Had any trouble?”

“Not much since you had yours. Had to shoot Princess a couple of towns back.”

“You mean the lioness?”

“Yes. She went on a rampage and there was nearly a bad accident, so we had to kill her.”

“Too bad,” remarked Joe, for he knew what a loss it meant to a show when a fine animal, such as Princess was, must be disposed of. “Still it was better than to have her kill her trainer or some one,” he added.

“That’s right,” agreed a canvasman.

Joe passed on to the dressing tent. Helen saw him coming and ran to meet him.

“Oh, Joe!” she exclaimed. “I am so glad to see you! Are you all right again?”

“Quite, thank you. I’m a little lame and stiff yet, but I’ll soon get limbered up when I get in my tights and feel myself swinging from a trapeze.”

“Oh, but you must be careful, Joe."’

“I will. I don’t want to have another accident. And now about yourself. How have you been?”


“And Rosebud?”

“The same as ever. I’ve taught him a new trick. I must show you. I haven’t put it on in public yet.”

“I shall like to see him. Well, you haven’t had any more fortunes left to you, have you?”

“No, indeed. I wish I had. But I can increase what I have.”


“Just buy more oil stock. I had a letter from Mr. Sanford, saying he could get me some more. It’s going up in price; so he advised me to buy at once.”

“Are you going to?”

“Would you?” Helen asked.

“I’ll tell you later,” Joe answered. “Have you one of the stock certificates you did buy?”

“Yes. In my trunk. Do you want to see it?”

Joe did and said so. Helen got it for him and Joe compared it with the one the man in the hospital had given him. His heart sank as he saw that the names of the officers and directors were the same. The Circle City Oil Syndicate was a failure.

Joe’s face must have reflected his emotions, for Helen asked him:

“What’s the matter? Is anything wrong?”

“I am afraid I have bad news for you,” Joe replied.

“In what way? You’re not going to ”

“It’s about your stock. I’m sorry to tell you that your oil stock is worthless part of your fortune is gone, Helen!”