The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 3, Chapters 12-13 Summary

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The man in the gray suit makes his way through the crowd shortly after Friedrick Thiessen dies. People in front of him step out of the way without even fully understanding that Mr. A. H. is in their midst. Only one person does not move, thus blocking his way. It is Hector, Celia’s father. Only Mr. A. H. can see him. When Hector speaks, passersby turn to look for him, but Mr. A. H. distracts their minds with a swish of his fingers, drawing their attention to the attractions around them.

Mr. A. H. tells Hector that the circus has gotten out of hand. There are too many people around. The circus was not a good venue for the challenge between Celia and Marco. But Hector disagrees. He believes the circus makes the challenge more fun. The disadvantage, Hector says, is that the circus has kept Celia and Marco separated. If Celia had been introduced to Marco earlier, she would have beat him long ago. Hector believes Celia is much stronger than Marco is.

Mr. A. H. asks if Hector is blind—has he not seen that Celia and Marco are in love? If they had been allowed to meet earlier, they would only have become besotted with one another sooner. Hector counters with a statement that his daughter is much stronger than that, insinuating that Celia is not in love with Marco. He has trained her to not allow others to distract her.

The two men continue their argument, recalling past challenges in which they have been involved. They criticize one another’s previous students and call out their weaknesses. The two men have had a long history of other challenges. Then each predicts that the other’s student will fail. As proof that Hector’s daughter will lose, Mr. A. H. points out the sound of Celia crying for Friedrick, claiming that her tears are a sign of her weakness. Celia was quite fond of Friedrick, Mr. A. H. tells Hector. Then he predicts that Friedrick’s death will be what breaks Celia. As he fades into the crowd, Hector yells out that the competition is not yet over.

The next day, Celia shows up at Marco’s apartment. Once she is in his arms, Celia begins to release all her tension from the night before. She tells Marco that she tried to save Friedrick, believing that she could fix him like she once fixed one of his clocks. But she was wrong. She could not bring him back to life.

Marco says he does not know what upset the balance at the circus. Celia replies that she knows who it was but she does not know why. She tells Marco that Isobel was responsible. Marco reveals that he told Isobel about his feelings for Celia last night. He thought Isobel had taken the news well, but it seems he misjudged the situation. Marco does not understand why Mr. A. H. happened to be there. Celia admits that she invited him. She wanted him to see what was happening at the circus. She wanted him to judge the special effects she and Marco had created. She had hoped that Mr. A. H. would judge the results and then the competition would be done. Once it had ended, maybe she and Marco could be together.

Eventually Celia and Marco tire of talking about the circus. They go to bed together. But in the morning when Marco awakes, Celia is gone. So is one of his leather cases.

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