Money For The Circus 11
‘Vell, now for the camelss and the elephant.’ The Prof says, reassuming his fake accent. Marcus thinks perhaps it’s a disguise, or maybe a defence. Like pretending you really are the age you look. If you are only eight - instead of, say, thirteen – people are different around you. They do different things. Maybe they won’t beat you up. They say different things, too. Especially adults. So Marcus is not going to make a big deal about the way the Prof talks. Besides, he’s hoping to meet the lions too.
The camels are chewing something, or maybe their mouths just never stop moving. It looks very expressive, even so. The Prof is watching the camels closely. His own lips are moving and his hands are fidgeting again. Then he claps his hands.
‘Zis is Markus,’ the last bit sounds like ‘cooss’. The camel on the left’s mouth stops moving for the time it takes to hold up one hoof, like a dog, or a circus elephant. Marcus has to reach up a little to shake. The camel looks him right in the eye and slowly mouths ‘Mar-cooos’. The camel winks, waits a beat and mouths something that Marcus doesn’t quite recognise. The Prof laughs,
‘Come on, Sesame, do you sink Mar-kus knows French? He is only 13. Ze only Eenglish who spik anuzzer language are poets and frauds.’
‘He said, “Enchanté”’ says Marcus.
The Prof claps again, but this time it’s applause. He leans down, his face fills Marcus’s vision. His breath smells of peppermints and his accent is like an old actor’s from the the black-and-white “fillums”
‘We-ell, we-ell,’ he draws it out, ‘what d’ye think Mme. Camel is cawled, Master Marcus?’
Marcus thinks for a bit, although he’s pretty sure he knows the answer. The Prof lets out a sigh, ‘Not so awf’ly clevah, after all.’
‘Her name’s Ouvrez,’ Marcus says, but he can’t tell whether the look on The Prof’s face is disappointed, or not.
Marcus looks around. ‘What happened to the chimp?’
Professor Moreau shrugs, and points to the centre pole coming out of the big top’s canvas. ‘He doesn’t like meeting new people.’
Marcus waves and the chimp waves back. They walk over to the elephant, tethered to a stake that Daitya must have sweated bullets to drive in far enough. The heavy chain looks rusty, the collar around the elephant’s neck is fairly loose, and the leather looks new. There’s enough to make saddles for three horses and have some left over for some riding boots. The Prof leans down again holds up a hand to whisper in Marcus’s ear.
‘Be extra nice to Nelson, elephants never forget.’