The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 2, Chapters 13-14 Summary

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The circus is in Prague and it is 1894. There is a sign on the circus’s front gate telling customers that the circus is closed due to inclement weather. People stare at the sign and then look up at the skies. There is not a cloud in sight. But no lights are turned on, and there is no indication that performers are getting ready for their acts, so the patrons resign themselves to returning home. An hour later, the wind and the rain start.

While the rest of the circus entertainers are enjoying an “inclement weather party,” Celia ventures off the grounds and strolls through the city until she find an alluring café. Once inside, she notices Isobel and asks to join her. As the two women drink their tea, Celia asks Isobel if she has her Tarot cards with her. Celia is not often interested in having her fortune read, but she tells Isobel that right at that moment she is a little bit curious about her future. So Isobel pulls her Tarot deck out of her purse, sorts the cards into three separate piles, and asks Celia to choose one of them. Then Isobel begins to spread those cards out on the table.

At first the cards hold no clear meaning for Isobel as she attempts to read them. There are several cards of cups, swords, and one of the Priestess. But when the card referred to as Le Bateleur in Isobel’s French deck turns up, Isobel has difficulty suppressing a gasp. In English, this card is called the Magician. The card obviously defines Celia. As Isobel deals out more cards, she begins to see a pattern and is able to intuit a calculation of what might be occurring in Celia’s inner life. Isobel tells Celia that she can see that she is carrying many burdens and has a heavy heart. She also adds that outside forces are pushing her forward. Furthermore, Isobel reads that Celia is standing on the shore of a deep emotion that is about to pull her in.

Celia enjoys the reading and thanks Isobel before leaving the café. Outside, she ponders the Tarot reading. She is curious about the emotion that Isobel implied, but what she really wants to know about her future is the identity of her challenger. As she walks along the street, she realizes that the rain is not touching her. None of her clothes are getting wet, not even her boots. She looks more closely at the raindrops and sees they are slanting away from her in every direction. Another sensation is that of heat, as if the umbrella were keeping her warm. Then she hears someone call out her name. When she turns, she sees Marco. Marco says she has mistakenly taken his umbrella.

Celia is shocked to see Marco in Prague, but she does not ask him to explain. She is distracted by other thoughts. She hands him his umbrella and sees that as soon as he is holding it over his head, his clothes (which were soaked) become dry. Then she laughs. Now it all makes sense.

Marco asks her to join him for a drink. He says he has a lot of questions he would like to ask her. Celia answers, “Of course, you would.” She is tempted but declines the offer. Then she completely disappears, somewhat amused that she now knows who her competitor is.

In the next chapter, the story returns to Bailey in 1902. He is still at the circus, hoping to find the red-haired girl. As he roams around, he is attracted to the fortuneteller’s tent. He enters and asks for a reading. After Isobel shuffles the deck of Tarot cards, she tells Bailey that he has a journey ahead of him, during which he will play a very important role. She then pulls out more cards and smiles. She tells him that she knows why he is there. He is looking for Poppet.

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