(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

After the crowd goes home from a local fair and the booths and rides are closed down, a young girl named Annie remains behind. Surrounded by the shapes of wooden horses and fairy boats, she begins to look for a place to sleep for the night. Peeping into tents and behind stalls shrouded in canvas, she continues searching for a suitable bed but fails to find a comfortable place. When she comes to the Astrologer’s tent, she discovers a bundle of straw in the corner. When she touches the straw it begins to move. She then kneels by its side, puts out her hand, and feels a baby’s hand touch her own.

Having nowhere to sleep now, she decides to walk toward the trailers where the workers from the fair make their homes. Most of the trailers are dark, so she chooses to knock at the door of one of the only two that still have their lights on. The fattest man she has ever seen in her life opens the door and invites her in. After they share some buttered toast, the large host explains to Annie that he is the Fat Man. As he puts it, “I’ve always been a fat man . . . and now I’m the Fat Man; there’s nobody to touch me for fatness.” When he asks her why she left her home in Cardiff, Annie simply replies, “Money.” He, in turn, tells her about the fair, the places he has been, and the people he has met. Annie finally tells him about the baby in the Astrologer’s tent. “That’s the stars again,” he replies. Annie merely says, “The baby’ll die.”

When the Fat Man suddenly leaves the trailer Annie...

(The entire section is 625 words.)