The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 1, Chapters 4-6 Summary

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Alexander enters an orphanage. He converses with the headmistress, who brings him three children. After interviewing the first boy and girl, he sends them back. The third boy most interests him. This boy, Marco, has quick reflexes, which Alexander tests by throwing his walking cane at him without any warning. Marco also tells him that he loves to read, but the place where he is currently staying does not have many books, and he has read them all.

Alexander tells Marco to pack his things. He will be living with him from now on. Marco asks if he has a choice. Alexander asks Marco if he would rather stay there. Marco tells him no.

Marco, like Celia, is trained in magic. He lives mostly by himself because Alexander is often gone and there is no one else in the household—at least, no one Marco ever sees. His meals are brought to him, as are stacks of books. Alexander sits down with him each day for formalized lessons. He also takes Marco on trips to other European countries.

Celia’s life is somewhat different. She, like Marco, undergoes intensive training. She also travels with Hector, but their travels are dictated by where Hector is performing. As Celia grows older, Hector spends less time with her, so she often studies on her own. Hector shares one lesson with her when one of the doves he uses in his show breaks a wing. Celia asks Hector if he can fix it. He asks her if she can. Celia attempts to mend the bird’s wing through mental manipulation but is unsuccessful. When she hands the bird back to Hector, he breaks its neck. He tells Celia that the lesson she has just learned is that she has limitations.

Later Hector teaches Celia how to heal herself. In this exercise, Hector splits Celia’s fingertips, and she must mend them using only her will. She is successful.

As he matures, Marco keeps a journal in which he records the magic spells and symbols he has learned. He is nineteen now, and Alexander has set Marco up in his own townhouse. Now that he is older, Marco has more freedom to explore the city on his own. One day while he is out, he loses his notebook. Frantically he retraces his steps until he finds a girl who is reading his notes. The girl tells Marco that her name is Isobel Martin, though Marco thinks she is lying. She apologizes to Marco for having looked inside his notebook. She had been following him to give it back, but she lost track of where he was going. She hands the journal back to him.

Marco wants to thank her for returning his cherished book, so he suggests they get something to drink. While at the small café, Isobel asks him why he is studying magic. He wants to know how she knows that he is. Isobel tells him that she recognized some of the symbols in his journal. This impresses Marco, and he decides to demonstrate something he has learned.

They go for a walk. It is raining outside. When they stop next to a wall, Marco makes Isobel close her eyes. When she opens them, they are in a different location. The sun is out and there is no sign of rain. Instead, there is a light layer of snow on the ground. Isobel is amazed. Then Marco leans toward her and kisses her.

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Part 1, Chapters 1-3 Summary


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