The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 2, Chapters 15-17 Summary

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The circus is in Spain, and the year is 1894. Poppet has had a vision she does not like. It has confused her. In the vision, Poppet sees a lot of red, as if someone has spilled several cans of red paint on the ground. She has not told Celia about her vision because she wants to wait until she better understands it. So far, even Poppet’s most confusing visions eventually make sense to her. After telling Widget about the red paint, Poppet adds that there was good news in the vision too. The vision made clear that they are about to get a visitor. Poppet has no idea who this visitor is, but the idea makes her feel happy. Then she asks her brother to tell her a story.

Widget begins his story: “Secrets have power.” He explains that if a person has a secret, it is best that he keep it. That is how power evolves. But keeping a secret is difficult for many people, and that is why there is so little magic in the world in the present day, Widget explains. Too many people told their secrets to others.

Widget continues by saying that the greatest wizard in the world made the mistake of sharing his secrets. He told them to a young, clever girl. The girl tricked the wizard and took his secrets for her own, then she put a spell on the wizard, trapping him inside a tree. In the end, the girl grows old and weak and finally fades away. The wizard, though, has gained immortality. The tree in which he is trapped thrives and sends out seeds, which grow into new trees. The Wizard becomes a part of each new seedling.

It is now a year later, in London. Tara Burgess has not yet called upon the man whose card Mr. Barris gave her. She is in the process of saying good-bye to her sister, Laine, who is leaving for Italy. Tara turns down Laine’s invitation to join her on the trip. Days after Laine leaves, Tara sets out to find the address on the card.

She ends up at a hotel and asks the clerk at the desk about the man whose name is on the card. The clerk claims there is no one registered there with that name. Tara ponders what to do next, and then she hears someone speak her name. When she turns, she sees the man who always wears a gray suit. She cannot remember his name, but he is described like Marco’s nameless mentor, Mr. A. H.

The man asks Tara if she is looking for him. Tara responds in the affirmative, and then she tells him she has questions about the circus. She states her concerns about the effect the circus is having on her—her inability to distinguish between consciousness and dreaming as well as the sensation that she is not aging.

The man merely states that the circus is just an ordinary circus, thus avoiding a serious conversation with Tara. He then asks if Tara was about to take the train, which Tara confirms. The man offers to walk with her to the train station. Once there, the man suggests that Tara find something other than the circus to occupy her mind. Then he leaves. After he is gone, Tara has trouble remembering what she wanted to ask the man in the gray suit and what her conversation with him entailed. She does not remember telling the man which train she needed to catch, but nonetheless he has left her on the correct platform....

(This entire section contains 772 words.)

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As she waits, she notices the gray suit across the way. The man looks as if he is arguing with someone, but that person looks almost transparent. She is so consumed with trying to see what is going on that she steps forward and falls into the oncoming train.

The circus is now in Germany. Celia takes time to visit with the clockmaker, Mr. Thiessen. While at his workshop, Celia uses her magic to fix one of the man’s intricate clocks that has stopped working. When Celia asks why he does not question how she did this, Thiessen responds that he would rather not know.

Celia enjoys talking with Thiessen. They seldom talk about the circus; instead, they choose topics like art and literature. The two of them meet every night, and they build a new friendship. Thiessen comes to Celia’s performances and afterward they go out to dinner. This continues until the news of Tara’s death makes it necessary for the circus to leave Germany.

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Part 2, Chapters 18-19 Summary