Water for Elephants Chapter 14 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- Nearly a week passes. Jacob hasn't seen Marlena and has barely seen August.
- Rosie, too, is having a tough time: August has been brutal to her and she's not getting trained any better. This isn't good.
- One evening, Jacob and Walter are hanging out when Earl comes to ask for Jacob's help: Camel isn't doing well, and Earl doesn't know what to do.
- Jacob says they should try to get a doctor; he's just a vet. But Earl says the circus won't take care of Camel like that. (After what happened to the horses, are you surprised?)
- So Jacob goes to see what he can do. It turns out Camel is having problems moving his body – he's actually kind of numb. Not good.
- Jacob wants to stay with Camel and take care of him, but Earl insists that he can't. So they leave Camel for the time being and make their way back to their own places. On the way, Earl shoves Jacob out of the car. Um?
- Back in his own room, Jacob tells Walter about Camel. Walter is able to diagnose the problem immediately: Camel's been drinking a kind of alcohol called jake. (Since it's Prohibition, he can't get anything else.) Walter heard that some of the jake got contaminated, and it's making the people who drink it lose feeling and motor control.
- This can't be good.
- Walter says Camel isn't going to make it, but Jacob still wants to get a doctor.
- Jacob is definitely worried, and as he agonizes, he has a flashback to Camel asking him if he wanted a drink when they first met. Luckily, he turned it down.
- Time passes, and the train arrives in Dubuque. They're supposed to get paid, but money is tight, so some people aren't receiving their paychecks.
- Walter explains that this is how Al operates and that at a certain point he'll just kick people out of the circus if he doesn't have money to pay them. (Not a great operation he has going on.)
- Jacob doesn't get paid when he asks for it, so he has no money to give the doctor.
- But our guy really wants to help Camel, so he seeks out other solutions.
- He goes to find Marlena and August. Things are awkward between them, but finally Marlena promises that Jacob can borrow the next doctor who comes to visit her. Done.
- After that, things at the circus get worse. A day passes, and we find out that Al had six people kicked off the train during the night because he didn't have money to pay them. Yikes.
- People are blaming the lack of money on Rosie. Poor elephant!
- Jacob is worried that Camel got kicked off the train, too, but luckily he was saved by another guy named Grady.
- A doctor comes to see Marlena and Jacob goes to get him. The doctor isn't really interested in treating Camel but immediately diagnoses him with "Jamaica ginger paralysis" (14.204). It's definitely from drinking the jake, just as Walter suspected. Prohibition really took its toll.
- The doctor is disdainful, barely acknowledges Camel, and says there's no treatment. Then he leaves.
- Jacob reveals that just for that measly visit, he had to give the guy his dad's beloved watch. The other circus folk are crushed, especially Camel.
- Jacob goes to find Walter and asks him if they can take Camel in for a while to protect him. To Jacob's surprise, Walter agrees, but he says they have to be careful and that they need a plan.
- Later that day, Marlena stops by and asks Jacob to come talk with her. She doesn't see Camel, who's already hiding with them.
- While they're chatting, he discovers that Marlena thought he had some kind of STD or got someone in trouble or something. Huh?
- When that's cleared up, they talk about their kiss. They're both conflicted and don't know what they should do. This is getting racy.
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