Study Guide

Water for Elephants Chapter 6

By Sara Gruen

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Chapter 6

  • Now Jacob is back on the train, waking up as his younger self. He sees Kinko get up and take his little dog, Queenie, out for a pee.
  • Jacob gets his bearings. It looks like the circus tents have already started to go up in a new town.
  • Our guy realizes that he's at the absolute bottom of the circus totem pole. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right?
  • Jacob meets up with August, who introduces him to Marlena. Ah, Marlena.
  • She recognizes him from the previous day and actually thinks she might know him from somewhere. Strange.
  • Finally, Marlena brings out the horse Jacob is supposed to look at, Silver Star. Jacob can immediately tell that the horse is in really bad shape.
  • Jacob examines Silver Star and gives his diagnosis: the horse's feet are in major trouble and it may be too late to do anything about it. They'll have to take very good care of the big guy, and even that might not be enough. Poor horse.
  • Marlena is horrified. But August and Uncle Al, who just rolled up, don't want to believe the horse is in such bad shape.
  • Uncle Al is up in arms because they need the horse for the show. He refuses to believe the horse will die, and, just like that, he officially hires Jacob.
  • Then he says it's time to pack up and keep going, even though they just got there. What?
  • It's going to take a while to get going again, though. At lunch, while they wait, everyone's buzzing about why the circus can't stay. (We're curious, too.) There's a lot of speculation, but no one knows for sure.
  • August insists that Jacob have lunch with him and Marlena. That's nice – sitting alone at lunch can be kind of a drag.
  • Another performer, Lottie, shows up and explains the history of the circus and why they have to move on so quickly.
  • According to Lottie, Al took over the circus through dishonorable means. He swooped in and bought part of it for nothing when the original Benzini Circus ran out of money a few years back. Al kept looking for circuses down on their luck and bought them up piece by piece. Sneaky.
  • Al likes to get new people for the sideshow, and he's just heard about someone in Joliet, a three-day trip from where they are now. The man, Charles Mansfield-Livingstone, has a tiny twin attached to his body. Now that is circus material.
  • So, Lottie explains, they have to bail on their show, even though they just got started and all of these supplies have arrived for them. (Apparently twin man is more important than all that.)
  • Plus, there's a huge audience waiting that's disappointed and getting mad, naturally.
  • After Lottie finishes her explanation, Jacob discovers that everyone's in an uproar. They may not have enough food for the journey and they're losing money. This isn't good.
  • August directs Jacob and Diamond Joe in getting the circus animals ready for the trip. They're really concerned that the animals won't have enough food for the journey, so August and Jacob strategize about supplies.
  • At this point, Jacob feels dirty and knows he could use a bath, so he throws an old pail of water over himself (you take what you can get, right?). August sees this and says that the circus will steal some clothes for him; then he shows him another pail of water that he should use. The water's got a name on it, Walter, but August says Jacob can go ahead and use it.
  • Jacob heads back to his sleeping quarters on the train. But first he checks on Silver Star, who still doesn't look good.
  • Back in his quarters, he discovers he has a new shirt to wear and puts it on. All dressed, he starts investigating Kinko's book collection. The books are all classics that hide cartoon pornography inside. Classy.
  • Kinko comes in and is super mad that Jacob is going through his belongings. They argue, and Jacob discovers that Kinko is Walter. Uh oh. Their relationship is even worse than before.
  • Much to the chagrin of the would-be spectators in Saratoga Springs, the circus leaves. Jacob checks on the horses one more time before going to bed.
  • The next day, Jacob is awoken when the train stops abruptly. Kinko and his dog get off the train while Jacob tries to figure out what's going on.
  • At that point, he meets up with August and they feed the animals. Unfamiliar with protocol, Jacob oversteps his bounds and August gets mad. This is becoming a pattern…
  • August makes Jacob feed the great cats, starting with the lion. Jacob has to go into the cage (!) where the lion bites him. Luckily the lion doesn't have teeth, so it's not fatal, but it still hurts like heck. Jacob is furious at August, who's acting like it was a prank.
  • Jacob storms off to regain his composure and clean himself up. Then he runs into Diamond Joe, who warns Jacob to watch out for August, who's a dangerous guy. (The whole lion-bite prank tipped us off to that one.)
  • Jacob goes back to the horses and encounters Marlena. They realize the horse is getting worse, and they're both sad.
  • Marlena notices Jacob's lion bite, but before he can explain it, the train gets going. Marlena stays with Silver Star while Jacob helps get everything ready to go.
  • That night, the train pauses again. Jacob is trying to avoid Kinko, but they have to interact when an invitation is delivered to their room. Jacob has been asked to have a meal with August and his wife.

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