The Sword Swallower, swallowing a knife in the small of his back, tastes cheap steel, rust, old leather, bits of bone. He asks for beer.


The circus is not your friend, warns the Bearded Lady, swatting away the domesticated vultures, Ted and Fred.


Is he still coming to dinner, the Ringmaster demands impatiently, the Minister of Silence wants a word. She’s sitting in the front row with a dictionary.


Everyone gathers to watch the coroner feast. I want to die on the trapeze where I was born, Father Ino declares, shaking his moustache.


A clue: someone has forged the lion-tamer’s autograph on the side of the feed car, in dung. I thought it was art, sighs Contortionist Candi.


The Jugglers threaten to drop their act. The Acrobats, jumping through hoops, avoid retrenchment. The Human Cannonball is fired.


All adjourn to watch the Parliament of Clowns debate. This House Believes? That’s going too far, snorts Tightrope Timmy. There are balloons.


The big tent sways from the heat of opinion. The stateroom piano plays itself. The elephants circle lazily above.