No. 363

Stanley and Livingstone were alligators kept by the Rowland’s Circus. The Circus’ time, however, had come to an end, and all assets were to be sold at auction at the end of the week.

Henry Morton, the reptile’s caretaker, was not about to see his charges removed from him and sold to the highest bidder. He had four days to save his cold-blooded companions.

His first attempt failed. Planning to lure the beasts from their pool with large pieces of meat, Morton had not taken into account that they’d been fed recently, and would have no interest in expending energy chasing surplus food.

His second attempt, to drive them away by beating them with a stick, was similarly unsuccessful. The animals’ thick scales prevented them from feeling their keeper’s prods. They sat still, exactly where they were.

Livingstone, the frisky one, did, however, attempt a lazy bite at the stick.

On the third day, Morton tried to move the entire tank onto a flatbed truck and abscond with the creatures, but a roving security guard intercepted him before he could get close enough with the crane, and Morton was lucky to explain away his presence as “routine maintenance”.

By the time the auction started, Morton was almost inconsolable at the thought of never seeing Stanley and Livingstone again. But he was surprised to discover that, while the bidding had started beyond his financial means, it had soon fallen to a more reasonable level.

In the end, Morton simply bought the Livingstone and Stanley. As it turned out, nobody else was keen to own two thirteen-foot, potential killing machines.

Morton eventually set himself up on a small piece of swampy land in his hometown and charged the local children an inflated price to watch the alligators bask in the sun and do absolutely nothing exciting.