Millicent Won’t Move!

By Thomas R. Chapman

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    “Millicent’s escaped!” “The elephant is loose!” The cries filled the circus grounds.

    Freddie peered anxiously out of the red and gold trailer where he lived. He saw Randolph, the roustabout, running past. A thick coil of rope hung over his shoulder. “Millicent pulled her stake out of the ground!” the tall young man explained as he stopped to talk to Freddie. “Our customers are going to be unhappy if they can’t see the sideshow, and she’s blocking the entrance. I’m going to tie this rope around her and try to lead her back to the field where she belongs.”

    “That won’t work,” Freddie said, earnestly, “but I know how to make Millicent move.”

    Randolph chuckled. “You? Why, you’re the smallest boy in the circus. How can you move an elephant?” And he hurried on.

    Freddie just smiled and scampered off toward the sideshow. Before long he came upon Chester, the oldest and wisest clown in the circus. He was wearing knobby shoes and was pushing a big black cannon ahead of him. At his side trotted Phil, his fluffy pink poodle.

    “Millicent’s loose!” shouted Chester. “I’m on my way to fire my cannon. When she hears the explosion, she’ll move out of the way! Come along and watch.”

    “I don’t think that’ll work,” said Freddie, walking alongside the clown. “But I know how to make Millicent move.”

    Chester stopped. “You? You can’t make that pesky pachyderm move an inch. You can’t even make Phil roll over, so how do you intend to make an elephant move?” Chester asked as he hurried away without waiting for a reply.

    Freddie just smiled.

    Shortly, Freddie came upon a great crowd of circus performers—jugglers, fire-eaters, and lovely bareback riders. They were all talking about the elephant that wouldn’t move.

    Alonzo, the lion tamer, boasted, “I’m going to wave my chair and crack my whip in front of Millicent. That’ll make that stubborn elephant move!”

    “I don’t think it’ll work,” said Freddie solemnly. “But I know how to make Millicent move.”

    “You?” The lion tamer snorted. “You know nothing about handling wild animals. How could you move that blissful behemoth!”

    Freddie simply smiled again.

    “Everybody stand back, please,” said Mr. Bertelli, the circus owner.

    Freddie watched Randolph loop his thick rope around the great elephant. She towered above them, and her legs were thick as tree trunks.

    Randolph pulled and pulled. His muscles bulged, and glistening perspiration streamed down his face. The fire-eater and the juggler joined the roustabout and, with stern faces, tugged on the rope. Still, the elephant refused to move.

    “That’s the most immovable mastodon I’ve ever encountered,” Randolph declared disgustedly. “I think Millicent has taken root.” He gathered up his rope and walked away.

    Freddie approached Mr. Bertelli. “Please, sir, I can make Millicent move,” he said.

    “Stay out of the way, Freddie,” Mr. Bertelli replied, but not unkindly. “This is a job for men.”

    Next, Chester touched a flame to the touchhole of his cannon. Freddie put his fingers in his ears and shut his eyes tightly. There was a moment of silence and then a loud BOOOOOOM! The sawdust-filled circus grounds shook with the sound. Freddie opened his eyes. Millicent heard that sound twice a day while Chester was performing. Cool as custard, she stood where she was.

    “She must be going deaf,” Chester said disgustedly. The clown flop-flopped away, sadly wheeling his cannon.

    Freddie tugged at Mr. Bertelli’s sleeve. “I can make Millicent move,” he insisted.

    “If Randolph and Chester couldn’t do it, how could you?” asked the circus owner, patting Freddie on the shoulder.

    It was Alonzo’s turn to try. The lion tamer twisted the ends of his long moustache and waggled his chair under Millicent’s trunk. His long black whip snapped an earsplitting KER-WHACK! Millicent blinked her little round eyes. She softly wrapped her trunk around the chair, set it to one side, and picked up Alonzo. The lion tamer helplessly waved his legs in the air. Abruptly, Millicent dropped him into the chair and, with a great snort, mussed his carefully combed hair.

    “That stupid elephant! She doesn’t have any respect for me. Me! The finest lion tamer in the world!” Alonzo stalked off.

    After that it was plain to see nobody else had an idea how to make Millicent move. A crowd was beginning to line up at the entrance. If Millicent didn’t get out of the way, no one could get by to see the sideshow!

    Freddie strode confidently up to the peanut vendor. “One bag, please,” he said.

    The boy took his sack of peanuts and approached the towering elephant. Freddie placed a peanut on the ground in front of Millicent. The elephant slowly lowered her long gray trunk and picked it up. She curled it gently into her mouth and stared at Freddie.

    Freddie dropped another peanut a few feet away. The elephant took one large step and picked it up. The circus folk cheered! Millicent was moving!

    Freddie backed his way toward the grassy field, dropping peanuts as he went. The big elephant followed, eating every peanut in her path!

    Before long, Millicent had followed the trail of peanuts and had joined the other elephants in the meadow. She was back where she belonged!

    “Hooray for Freddie!” proclaimed Chester. “He really did know how to make Millicent move!”

    And from that day on, Freddie’s circus friends asked him questions about all sorts of things. When Freddie said he knew the answer, they all believed him.

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney