Chapter 14 Summary
It has been nearly a week since Marlena’s accident, and she has not come out of her train car. August also no longer comes to meals, so Jacob eats alone. August does, however, continue his work duties, and he drags Rosie around on display with the bull hook snagged into the back of her front leg. Rosie entertains the crowds that visit the menagerie, but there are no plans for her to perform another act in the big top.
One evening, Earl comes to the ring stock car seeking Jacob’s assistance for Camel. The old man’s hands and feet have gone limp and floppy, and Earl says that Camel needs a doctor. Jacob reminds Earl that a veterinarian is not the same as a doctor, but Earl says that Uncle Al will not get a doctor for Camel because he is just a working man. Walter claims that Camel likely has “jake leg,” a type of paralysis caused by drinking a bad batch of jake, a ginger extract.
The next morning, the men line up to get their pay, and many are turned away empty-handed: Uncle Al is out of money from the purchase of Rosie. Being neither a working man nor a performer, Jacob wonders how he will be considered; when it is his turn in line, Jacob is not paid. No one complains openly for fear of being redlighted. At dinner, Jacob learns that several men were thrown from the train the previous night, and he rushes to see if Camel is still in his car. The other men have done a good job keeping Camel safe from Blackie, the train’s bouncer.
Without cash, Jacob decides to use his father’s pocket watch as barter to hire a doctor for Camel. He goes to August and Marlena’s car, and the doctor who is caring for her feet agrees to go with Jacob to see Camel. Although he appears quite disgusted at having to enter the working men’s car, the doctor does in fact diagnose Camel with Jamaica ginger paralysis and says there is no cure. Because Camel helped him when he first showed up on the train, Jacob decides to ask Walter if Camel can hide in their car. Walter wants to make a long-term plan, and they decide to try to contact Camel’s son to come for him. So they hide Camel behind some trunks in their room.
Marlena knocks on the door, and Jacob goes out to see her. She wants to talk about what happened in Chicago and admits that she keeps thinking about their kiss. Then she abruptly asks Jacob to leave, and although he does not want to go, he leaves.