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  • Linda Nygard

Little Miss Bessie

Updated: Feb 24

Little Bessie loved the monkeys the best. She found the furry primates the most amusing as they played and cavorted about their cage. The small child would smile at them, and stick her hand in the cage to touch their soft backs and hold their humanistic hands. Some of the kids called her “monkey-girl” because she would spend her time talking to and befriending the little fur-people.


The big kids would be mean to the little apes by poking at them with sticks and mimicking their large lipped, contorted facial expressions. The resulting experience usually ended with the monkeys surprising the offending hellions with fistfuls of excrement; expertly tossed at the brats faces, then on to the backsides of the fleeing crybabies.


Bessie had the run of the circus grounds. She was all of 5 years old and was acquainted with everyone and everything involved with the Big Top. Mr. Candy was one of her favorites; outfitted with his red, blue and yellow candy striped suit he would man the treat shack. Some days he would reach under his booth and pull out a rotund, pink, fluffy ball of cotton candy. That was the most fun of treats. The small child would hover her face over the sweet spun sugar, dangling a bead of spit from her lips until it hit the top of the ball. The spit would burrow down through the hair-like concoction, creating a bright pink tunnel as it melted the surrounding sugar. Alternately, she would pull the strands off and mush them between her fingers, thus making a hard ball of sweet candy that she would pop in her mouth and let melt on her tongue.


With a “Good day Miss Bessie!”, Mr. Candy would tip his red bowler hat and out would pop a small bright hard candy that she could suck on a little later that morning. The sweet man knew better that the treat would not make it until noon. Little Bessie would reply “Thank you Mr. Candy” as she skipped down the grounds out of view.


As the tigers paced their cages, waiting for their morning meal; the small girl would quietly tip-toe past the striped beasts. The cats fierce roars scared her, especially when they were staring in her direction. As she scurried past, Little Bessie would think that they probably imagined her as a pre-breakfast treat.


Under the Big Top, Mr Ringmaster practiced his pony routine with his mistress, Miss Bell. Little Bessie did not care much for the perfumed woman; because she had the affections of the magnificent Mr. Ringmaster. The “Little Girl”, as Miss Bell condescending called the child, imagined the day when the perfumed woman lost the attention of the Ringmaster.


Miss Bessie would then take her rightful place and ride the majestic ponies while gazing into the eyes of her hero. Miss Bessie’s name would then light up the marque, right next to Mr. Ringmaster's, for all the world to see.