Chapter 2. Lucky performance
Luke woke his friends before sunrise. For several minutes Bonnie was sweetly
yawning and stretching before she finally opened her eyes. Her glance even seemed
kind until she realised how hungry she was.
- I have already forgotten: what was the purpose of waking me up so early? Could
anyone remind me?
- Reminder: we have to return to the zoo as soon as possible. We will run to the
central square from there. By lunchtime we should be there if, of course, nobody is
pestering us with complaints. There is a great number of people on the square during
lunch. The most important thing is the giant billboard there. We have to hurry, friends,
lest the day should be wasted, - said Luke and went to the familiar puddle.
He had drunk his full before Ginger made up his mind to do the same. Bonnie was
watching them arrogantly and said:
- Had my mistress ever seen me drinking from a puddle, she would have fainted...
However, she had no choice. She knew delaying everyone would upset Luke so she
obediently drank some cold water from yesterday’s puddle that seemed to have grown
during the night.
The three of them strolled along the trolley tracks in the direction they came from
yesterday. The morning quiet was sometimes broken by a car’s engine.
- Where is the trolley? – asked Bonnie suddenly.
- It’s too early and the trolleys haven’t started yet, - answered Luke.
- It’s that I just thought: why should we walk such a long way when we can take the
trolley? To leave just like we arrived!
- Why not take a ride back. There is one small thing, though... – began Luke.
- We don’t know where to get out! – guessed Ginger.
- Absolutely right, buddy, - smiled Luke and asked Bonnie:
- Did you understand, baby?
The lap-dog just nodded. Having run another few dozen feet she abruptly stopped
- Will you stop! Don’t you understand: you are walking while I have to run! If you run
I won’t even be able to catch up with you. Walk slowly so that I can walk quickly.
- She’s right, Luke. She is three times smaller than I and, probably, five times
smaller than you, - supposed Ginger and they slowed down their pace.
Dawn came. It was wet and cold. There was the sound of the first trolley that
appeared a minute later. The friends moved on although rather slowly. They did not
know how many hours they spent on the move but when they saw the high walls and big
heavy gates of the zoo the sun was quite high and even hot.
- Don’t you say so, Luke, we reached it! Walking along the trolley tracks without
turning anywhere was the right thing to do! The road itself led us back! – said Ginger
enthusiastically, wagging his short tail.
- In this case it was not difficult. A little patience was all that was required. And, of
course, a little self-control, - said Luke, looking at Bonnie.
She did not say anything so Luke added in a minute:
- You’ve been a fine girl today. Did not complain once.
The friends sat down to rest in the bushes that grew close to the zoo.
- Too many people today are waiting for the zoo to open. I don’t think it is a
weekend today. And there are throngs of children. What could that possibly mean?.. –
reflected Luke aloud.
And in a few minutes he exclaimed joyfully:
- I got it! It is the time of school autumn vacations now, that’s why there are so many
children in the morning.
- Perhaps someone will treat us to a sandwich, or at least a small cookie... – said
Bonnie thoughtfully, looking at the crowd of children where almost everyone had
something edible in their hands.
- Don’t even think about it! And above all, don’t beg or, even worse, don’t do what
you did in the trolley yesterday, - answered Luke severely.
- I don’t get… Aren’t you guys going to eat anymore?
- Oh yes, we are very much indeed! We are going to check those trash containers
on the right side of the zoo, - answered Luke.
- I see them, Luke. Let’s run now! – rejoiced Ginger who was as hungry as his
- No, buddy, let’s wait. The zoo will be open any minute now. Many people will throw
things away before going in so the choice in containers will be bigger, - Luke warned the
- I cannot hear the words “trash container” anymore! In my worst nightmare I could
never have imagined I would have to eat from trash and also be thankful for it... – said
Bonnie spitefully and turned the other way.
- All this is true, beauty. But you have to admit that everything turned out not too
bad at all: you met friends who helped you. Also you saw and learned many new things.
You will return home in three brief days. What worries me much more is Ginger... – said
Luke thoughtfully, when the zoo gates opened and the crowd of people started moving
Nobody paid any attention to the advertisements that were wet through because of
yesterday’s rain. Some of them came loose and fluttered in the wind. The necessary ad,
the very one, was among them. But people were so keen on getting into the zoo that
nobody cared to read about a red spaniel that had already been lost for ten days.
Nobody knew he was sitting here, nearby, and had no idea that his masters have been
looking for him everywhere in their own town and now desperately kept on their search in
the neighbouring one. Isn’t it a pity to be half a step away from rescue but not being
rescued... To remain unknown and therefore not found...
After the throng had entered the zoo, Luke and Ginger quickly reached small grey
containers, one of which was already full. There was half a loaf of fresh bread and almost
a full package of potato chips right on top. The friends did not linger and Bonnie, who
was still looking the other way, did not have to wait long for them.
- We are in luck today, guys, - said Luke licking his lips.
The three of them settled comfortably on the grass far from strangers’ eyes and
finally shared the food.
Naturally, the last to finish was Bonnie. She licked her lips and said in a much more
- I want to drink. I have never eaten anything so dry and tasteless before.
- Well, let’s assume we are well aware of it. Even used to it. But as for tasteless, I
think you are wrong. You seem to forget what you were eating the morning after we
found you, - smiled Luke.
- I forgot it and wanted to!
- You shouldn’t. Had you remembered it, you would have realised today’s meal was
not so bad at all. We can drink as usual from the puddle on our way to the central
square. Let’s only hope the puddles don’t dry out too fast. The sun is too warm today,
doesn’t even look like autumn... – said Luke as he lay down on the grass and closed his
eyes in satisfaction.
- Freddie told me when we met he was so hungry he even had been eating pine-
cones, - remembered Ginger.
- Doesn’t surprise me a bit. He was so helpless and scared of everything. Always
was shaking in fear, even if there was nothing to be afraid of, - laughed Bonnie.
- Well, one can hardly call him brave, of course, but it’s because he was so
domestic and small, - supposed Ginger.
- At least he was always thankful for everything done for him. Which, of course,
makes him different from someone, - said Luke quickly glancing at Bonnie.
- I would have managed without your help. I am sick and tired of you all, especially
of you, Luke with your constant lectures and rules of good form. What right do you have
to teach me at all? I ate the best food, I slept on silk pillows! And anyway... – shouted
Bonnie stamping her paw on the ground furiously.
- Anyway, I think we have to start toward the central square, - interrupted Luke. –
We can rest for a few minutes and on we go. With a normal walk we should reach the
place by lunchtime.
- I don’t understand, what is the purpose of dragging so far just to be seen. We
have been seen by so many people already, still nobody knew Ginger. Maybe they are
not looking for him at all? – asked the lap-dog yawning.
- Don’t talk nonsense. Of course they are looking for him and we have to use the
smallest chance to help Ginger return home. We have not been lucky yet, that’s all. We
simply don’t meet people who read the advertisement, so what? One must always hope. I
heard one dog was found after a month and a half. So, my friends, let’s go on! – finished
Luke and stood up.
Bonnie also rose with displeasure. She seemed to be going to add something
offensive but kept silent because her friends had already walked away. So she
reluctantly followed them.
And the ad with smeared letters and Ginger’s black and white photo was still
hanging on the board flapping in the wind...
“Where shall we go and what should we do if we fail here too? Above all don’t let
Ginger know I worry a lot. Don’t kill his hopes or else the situation will be even worse. We
can simply go to the police, of course, but not yet. Not while Bonnie is with us, it is not
very safe. And if this fails, it’ll mean Ginger is from the neighbouring town, just like small
Freddie was. Then it will take a miracle to save him...” – thought Luke on their way.
It was Bonnie who distracted him from these gloomy thoughts. As usual, she
whimpered and demanded rest. Luke and Ginger stopped obediently.
- How do you know the way to this central square? – Ginger asked Luke.
- I have already told you I served in the police of this town. Every time something
happened I was on duty and visited different places. I remember most of them. Also
these two years I’ve been living alone have not been in vain. As for the central square, I
know it well. Several times I put police on the trail from there. Lots of people there, it’s not
so easy to follow trails. Ah, yes, one other thing – if I am not mistaken, there are stage
performances there during the school holidays. Kids come to see it even from other
towns. It’s a small but very real chance for our Ginger here...
Ginger cheered up noticeably. One could see his hopes had just gotten higher.
“I hope we reach this square soon. Maybe I will see anyone or smell something
familiar there”, - he thought.
However, as if reading his thoughts, Bonnie declared gloating:
- I am sure all this is in vain, total waste of time. Maybe we’d be better off going to
the river – swim a little, bathe in the sun, or perhaps...
- You can go wherever you want, little selfish one. You can do whatever you think
right and I will not persuade you anymore! – said Luke loudly and distinctly.
Then he stood up and walked. Ginger was after him.
At first Bonnie was so surprised and furious, she was taken aback. She could not
think of any reply, she followed her friends again...
The closer they came to the town centre, the more people surrounded them.
- Follow me and don’t fall behind! – cried Luke and ran faster.
Bonnie and Ginger ran after him until the crowd became impassable. There was a strong
smell of meals, sweets and Coke. Everything around was unusual, more like a
- Let’s stop over there for a while, - suggested Luke and turned sharply to the right.
Suddenly it was quite dark.
- I can’t see, I’m scared! Where are we? – squealed Bonnie.
- We are under the stage, - answered Luke.
- What is this “stage”? – wondered Ginger.
- It is a high wooden floor on which performances are hold.
- Why does this floor have to be high? – asked the spaniel again.
- For everyone to see easily from the distance. Understand now, buddy?
- Not exactly, but when we get out and I see it with my own eyes, I will, - said Ginger
who could not stop worrying.
The lap-dog was almost crying – she was scared and sulky.
- We’d better stay here till the performance begins. Then we’ll quietly go out and
Ginger will walk along the rows so that everyone can see him and also we won’t get
separated here, - suggested Luke. – Do you agree?
- I think it’s a good idea, - agreed Ginger.
- I don’t agree to sitting in the darkness with that constant roar overhead. I don’t
know when it will stop. I don’t want to stay here! – declared Bonnie indignantly.
- All right, let it be, we’ll make a circle around the square and adjacent streets and
then we will return here. The performance will have gathered the big crowd by that time
so we’d have a place to hide, - Luke encouraged his friends.
So they did it. They slipped by the people standing close to the stage, led by Luke,
then disappeared in the crowd again. They trotted along some big streets, walked on the
cobblestones and turned back to the town’s central square. Nobody paid them any
attention during their short journey. Everyone seemed to be running in a great hurry
without any notice of anyone around.
The friends approached the familiar stage but the small door underneath had been
locked. A few people were standing nearby discussing something vigorously and loudly.
Big boxes, pieces of scenery and other motley things were scattered all over the stage,
obviously needed for the performance.
A juggler was rehearsing on the other side – he was tossing up many coloured balls
and small rings. Three acrobats and a magician were also here. A man in funny clothes
with a glued nose and painted face came down the stairs from the stage. Apparently, he
was a clown and a very worried one at that. The clown approached a tall man wearing
glasses and said:
- Jerry is ill and I am not at all sure he is able to perform. He has not eaten anything
since morning and the vet said he had a fever. Our program item is ruined.
- Where is your Jerry now? – the bespectacled man asked the clown.
- He will arrive with other animals, but I don’t think he will be any better, - answered
- We’ll decide when he is here, - said the man, who evidently was the director of the
He was so busy that he actually seemed to forget about sick Jerry in a second,
when he immediately began talking to someone else.
Luke, Ginger and Bonnie exchanged glances but before they could utter a word, a
small truck drove close to the stage. The driver opened the van doors and... what a
wonder! He began taking out the cages with dogs and cats.
- All of them take part in the performance – said Luke quietly to his friends.
The last cage held two spaniels that looked very much like Ginger. One of them was
cheerful and full of life – he was barking and wagging his tail. The other one lay
motionless, his eyes very sad.
The clown came to the cage and asked tenderly:
- Hello there, friends. Are you ready for the performance?
The first spaniel barked even louder, the second did not even lift his head. It
seemed he did not hear the man’s words at all. The clown called the man in glasses, he
approached the cage, frowned and said:
- Yes, Jerry is not at his best today. So, what can we do? Can Kim perform alone?
- It’s impossible – our turn is intended for two dogs, - answered the clown.
- Try to rehearse. Perhaps Jerry will come to our assistance today, - suggested the
The clown opened the cage. The first spaniel jumped joyfully out, while the second
- I’ll leave the cage open, Jerry. Join us if you can, - the clown bent down to the sick
spaniel and fluttered his ears.
The first spaniel, whose name was Kim, began the rehearsal. He had to stand on
hind legs, jump through a hoop, roll a big green ball and hold a bunch of balloons in his
teeth. The clown called Jerry several times, but although he crawled out of the cage, the
dog did not join the rehearsal.
Kim got some tasty snacks but Jerry refused them. At last, he simply lay down on
the stage and his gaze became even sadder.
- Hey, Ginger, can you do all this stuff? – Bonnie eagerly asked Ginger who was
watching everything closely.
- I don’t know. I guess I can. I have done some of these stunts with my masters’
- Maybe you could take part in the performance. Everyone will see you this way. In
addition, you will get some food. Luke and I will be waiting for you nearby, - suggested
- But this is impossible! Ginger has never performed on the stage. Also, who would
let him? He has been in the streets for more than ten days: dirty paws and dusty hide... –
Luke wanted to add something else but could not.
Ginger darted forward and, not at all sure what he was doing, ran to the clown,
barked loudly and began doing accurately and quickly everything Kim did a few minutes
The clown exchanged glances with the bespectacled man.
- What is this? – asked the director surprised.
- I have no idea. Have never seen him before, - said the confused clown.
- Who he is and where he came from is not that important, though. We have to
rescue your performance, - said the bespectacled man crisply and distinctly so that it
sounded almost like an order.
- Do you suggest?.. – asked the clown guardingly.
- Indeed I do! And this is not a suggestion – I insist that you take this dog instead of
Jerry. At least for today’s performance. Tidy him up so that in an hour he can perform
together with Kim, - uttered the director firmly and hurried away to tend to his director’s
Ginger could hardly come to his senses when some woman in a blue overall put a
collar on his neck and led him behind the stage. Poor Jerry was carried back into the van
by the driver. In a minute the van departed, probably taking Jerry to the doctor.
The woman who got Ginger was hastily tidying him up. He had to look like a real
artist. She washed his paws, toweled them dry and then combed his long thick fur for a
- We will wash you thoroughly, of course, and trim your fur after the performance.
You will be a handsome one! – said the woman to Ginger, but he did not hear her.
“What will happen now, how can I escape after the performance? Or, maybe, it’s
impossible! Will I become a circus actor? I want to return home, only home! But if not, an
actor is better than a stray dog anyway. All right, I shall perform now and then we’ll see.
My master always said there’s no point in worrying beforehand. I have to hope...” –
thought Ginger when someone was attaching a big black bow tie to his collar. So, when
he returned to the stage he looked just like a real artist.
- Well, well! You are a real circus fellow now! – smiled the clown. – Let us rehearse
Ginger looked around but did not see his friends.
“They must be close – probably behind those big trees nearby. They will never
leave me alone like this...” – thought Ginger and began rehearsing for his first
performance because he had nothing better to do.
His friends, however, were not behind the trees but even closer – behind the big
boxes that had housed the equipment brought here for performance. Everyone was too
busy with organisational problems and did not notice a big black shepherd side by side
with a small white lap-dog.
Luke was very disturbed and kept being angry with Bonnie.
- How could such an idea ever come to your head? You have to think before you
speak, you know. You have to understand that Ginger wants to return home so badly he
is capable of mistakes.
- Why is it a mistake? I don’t see anything bad in Ginger’s performing and also
having a good meal. All the same, he wanted to walk between the rows and this way
everyone will surely see him, - answered Bonnie unperturbed.
- Don’t you get it?! After Ginger has been washed and combed, he doesn’t look lost
anymore! Nobody will be able to recognise him, - Luke almost shouted.
Having calmed down a bit he said quietly:
- All right, there’s nothing we can do now. It won’t be the first time for us to escape,
anyway. We will have to help Ginger disappear after the performance.
At that time, Ginger finished his first – and, maybe not the last – rehearsal. The
clown gave him something to eat. This something was quite tasty so Ginger ate
everything quickly and enjoyed every little bit. The clown stroked him, flapped his ears
and led him by the collar to the cage.
Freedom-minded Ginger understood he was going to be caged and tried to break
loose. However, the clown smoothly put him inside right after Kim who was used to it. The
cage closed and the clown said tenderly:
- Don’t worry so much, buddy. Everything’s gonna be all right.
Ginger tried to calm down but to no avail.
- Hey, why do you worry so much? You’ll see how great it is to perform. All the
children will love you and adults will too. All in all, it’s wonderful to be an actor. You will
surely like it! – Kim tried to encourage Ginger.
They looked very much alike, only Kim’s fur was much shorter with a brownish tint,
while Ginger’s flaming red fur was never trimmed and reached the floor.
- I don’t want to be an actor. I want to be back at home... –he said sadly and finally
His gaze was very sorrowful.
- Look what you’ve done! Our friend is in a cage because of you. How can we set
him free now? Oh, Bonnie... You are just a little selfish intolerable dog. Now it can well
happen that Ginger will never return home again, - said Luke with disappointment looking
at his gloomy friend.
Bonnie wanted to say something but the people were already taking their places.
The noise started to subside and somewhere from the depth of the stage there was
The music became louder, the audience applauded and Bonnie felt like weeping.
For the first time in her life, she was ashamed. Although nobody made Ginger go on the
stage; he did it himself she felt guilty about it. So she shriveled into a tight white furball,
scared to look into Luke’s eyes. Luke, meanwhile, was attentively watching everything
happening on the stage. He too was confused and had no idea what to do next. It
happened to him before when he lost the trace and the criminal was tracked by another
The sun set and the lights went on around the stage. The first program item was a
children’s choir followed by a dance troupe. A small play about ducklings was shown after
that. All the children were delighted and clapped loudly. Then the acrobats came
showing their courage and mastery. When they showed the most dangerous stunts,
everyone sat in absolute silence watching the stage in wonder. The acrobats were
awarded with thunderous applause and cheers before they gave the stage to the juggler.
This one juggled everything! Coloured balls of many sizes, rings, saucers and even
And the performance went on...
The magician with his assistant pulled flowers and handkerchiefs out of people’s
sleeves. Different things disappeared and appeared again, two rings that were
impossible to separate were suddenly parted... Lots of multicoloured bandannas were
tied together in a long chain that was suddenly untied with a wave of the magician’s
The audience cheered the artist loudly and enthusiastically and did not want him to
At last the time of the four-legged artists came. The cats were the first to perform. It
is little known that cats can be so smart and artistic. Ginger, meanwhile, was still in the
cage behind the stage. He knew the time for his performance was drawing near and was
- Should you forget anything, just look at me and do as I do, that’s all, - Kim tried to
calm his new partner down again.
Ginger wanted to answer Kim but suddenly the clown came by, quickly opened the
cage and asked tenderly:
- Well, boys, are you ready? Let’s go, sweethearts. Don’t you worry, fellow,
everything’s gonna be all right...
He stroked Ginger and flapped his ears. At this moment, the curtain was lifted up
and there were so many lights aimed at Ginger that at first he was very perplexed.
The music played, the clown was saying something and pacing comically along the
stage in his huge boots with crooked noses. The children were laughing. Ginger was
sitting obediently next to Kim. For an instant, he actually liked being on the stage and
performing for children.
The clown asked Kim:
- Is it true that your name is Kim?
Kim barked loudly and wagged his tail. The audience clapped.
- And is it true that your name is Jerry? – asked the clown again now talking to
Ginger was quite sure his name was different so he kept silence and only moved his
paws up and down.
- What’s wrong with you? Say “yes”, be a good boy, - whispered the clown and gave
him something tasty.
Ginger understood he had to obey, otherwise the performance would fail, so he
loudly barked and the audience clapped again.
Then he copied exactly what Kim was doing. Ginger stood on hind legs and even
walked in circles. Then they jumped through the hoops. The clown held the hoops in his
hands and both spaniels jumped through them at the same time, but in different
directions. It was funny and, of course, amused the kids.
It was rather hard for Ginger to deal with the big green balls. He had to stand on
hind legs and push the ball with his forelegs but he could not manage it, so he simply
pushed the ball with his wet nose. It looked so funny that everybody was laughing loudly.
The clown made everyone think Ginger did it all on purpose to entertain them.
Everybody was enjoying the performance and laughing except for a little girl sitting
in the tenth row near the aisle. From the moment the clown’s performance began, she
did not utter a word or move. The girl was leaning on the chair back and clutching
something in her hands. It was a small brown plush toy dog that she never parted with.
The performance was coming to an end. She was still watching the stage intently
and there were tears in her eyes.
- Cathy, darling, clap a little bit, will you, - said the woman sitting next to the girl.
But she did not answer as if she had not heard her mother’s words.
At the end of the performance, Ginger and Kim were each given a big bunch of
balloons that they were to let go on the clown’s signal. The balloons were to come loose,
fly to the audience and the children would catch them. Indeed everything went as
The kids were laughing and trying to catch the balloons. Ginger liked everything so
much he started to play like he always did – lying on his back with all four paws in the air.
He did not even think that was a good moment to jump down from the stage and run
At this moment, Luke stood up, shook and slowly went to the stage to call Ginger.
At the same time, the girl from the tenth row suddenly burst into tears.
- Cathy, darling, what’s wrong? – asked her mother.
- Mommy, this dog is Ginger. I know he is. They gave him to the circus. And you told
me he lived in a big house and he was fine.
- What are you talking about, Cathy? He was not given to anyone at all. I think you
are wrong, it just seems so to you, you are very excited now.
She tried to take hold of the girl’s hand, but Cathy pulled loose and ran to the stage
shouting with all her might:
- Ginger! Ginger, it’s me, Cathy! Come here!
Luke stopped halfway and even retreated a few steps. “Cathy. I know this name...
That’s the girl who found him when he was still a puppy. The girl who will rescue him once
again...” he thought and his heart was full with lightness and joy.
Ginger, meanwhile kept enjoying himself on the stage. Suddenly he froze. For a
moment it seemed as though he heard Cathy’s voice. Ginger rolled, stood up on his
paws, pricked his ears and looked around...
Cathy, his Cathy, the best girl in the whole world, was running along the aisle!
Ginger whimpered, his eyes were filled with tears, but he was unable to make a step. The
girl ran to the stage, her face was smeared but her eyes were happy.
- Ginger, why are you so naughty? How come you are here? My dear dog, - said
Ginger slowly crawled to her. Cathy climbed the stairs to the stage and held her
hands out to him...
Her fiery-red furry spaniel rushed into her embrace. The girl cried. Then Ginger
started running around her barking, unable to calm down.
The clown, Cathy’s mother and some other people came by. Everybody understood
something very good had just happened.
- So, you found your friend? – smiled the clown.
- Found indeed! I have just talked to the Kaisers on the phone. They have been
looking for him for twelve days now. How did he end up in another town, I wonder?! –
asked Cathy’s mom with surprise.
- I told you it’s my Ginger! My dog! – answered Cathy holding the spaniel in her
arms. – I would know him in a million.
Happy and tired Ginger heard barking in the distance. “It’s Luke!” – he thought. “I
am ungrateful. I have to thank him and say good-bye.” He suddenly jumped off the stage,
and disappeared, leaving everyone perplexed.
- He will be back now! – said Cathy confidently. – He just has an urgent affair to
Ginger quickly found the place behind the boxes where he left his friends. Luke and
Bonnie were still there.
- Isn’t it wonderful that you are found, buddy! I am so glad. Guess you have to thank
our little Bonnie. She was the one who suggested you take part in the performance. This
way Cathy saw and recognised you! – said Luke joyfully.
- Had he simply walked in the aisle, Cathy would have known him anyways, - said
Bonnie with uncommon modesty.
- I don’t recognise you, baby! Anything happened? Are you ill? – laughed Luke.
- Bonnie, Luke, thank you for everything! Luke, you are the smartest, the bravest,
simply the best. You are a real friend! Would you like to go with me – they will find you a
home too, - suggested Ginger.
- No, buddy, I still have to stay with Bonnie for two more days and then... Someone
else will need my help. I guess I will do without, - answered Luke quietly.
- Ginger, where are you? – the friends heard Cathy’s voice.
- I’m here! Already coming! - barked the spaniel.
- Go, friend, she is waiting for you. Take care. Now you know how bad is to be a
stray, - said Luke in farewell.
- Thank you, friends, thank you for everything! Good-bye, Bonnie, listen to Luke
and get home safely! Farewell, friends. I will miss you... – added Ginger almost inaudibly
and ran toward the stage.
- So will we. Miss you, - answered Bonnie in the same low voice when Ginger had
already disappeared from sight.