(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

A man awakened by strong spring sunlight discovers that he is bound but in a loose way that makes him smile. He can move his legs a little, and his arms are bound to themselves, not to his body. Wanting to cut the cord, he finds that his knife, money, coat, and shoes are missing. There is also blood on his head.

After several attempts, he manages to stand up. Unable to walk, he hops away like a bird, and hears stifled laughter. Realizing that he might not be in a position to defend himself frightens him.

He heads for the nearest village. As evening falls, he learns how to walk in his bonds. He feels that he is in the power of the earth, which sometimes comes up toward him like a swift current. Before midnight, he lies down and sleeps.

The next morning, he goes through the intricate maneuver of picking up an empty wine bottle, intending to smash it and cut his bonds with a sharp edge. He is seen, however, by the owner of a circus, and becomes its chief attraction. The owner is delighted by the charm of his movements, which “seemed like the voluntary limitation of a high speed.”

Everyone who goes to the circus goes to see the bound man. He is different from the other performers because he does not remove the cord between performances, although he can free himself if he wants to. To bathe, he jumps fully clothed into the river each morning. Because he never reveals anything of his past, and keeps to the same simple...

(The entire section is 451 words.)