Mrs. Jane Strong, had been a famous circus bareback rider, known to the public as Madame Hortense. Joe's father was Alexander Strong, or, to give him his stage name, Professor Morretti. He had been a magician, even better than Professor Rosello. Both Joe's parents had died when he was a small boy.
For a time the boy was cared for by his mother's circus friends, but finally Joe was adopted by the Blackfords. His life with them was not a happy one, and the climax came when the deacon punished Joe for spoiling his suit in rescuing Professor Rosello.
In the night, Joe ran away. He decided to appeal to the magician who had gone on to another town to give a show. Joe had a half-formed plan in mind. The boy was of great strength, and fearless. When a mere child he had attempted circus feats, and now he was an expert on the trapeze and flying rings, while he had also made a study of "magic," and could perform many tricks. Joe was absolutely fearless, and one of his delights was to execute daring acts a