The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 4, Chapters 1-3 Summary

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The next chapter is seen through Celia’s eyes as she puts Marco into a deep sleep so she can slip away without having to say good-bye to him. She is determined to learn his magical system so she can figure out a way to make the circus independent of them; this way, they can release themselves from it and be together. She searches through Marco’s papers and takes what she thinks might help her.

As soon as she steps out of Marco’s place, she runs into her father. Hector scorns Celia for sleeping with Marco. He tells her that she is weaker than he had thought. Celia tries to ignore his accusations, but as she defends herself, she learns the true consequences of the challenge. Her father has bound her to a competition that requires more than magical skills. There is no winner announced at the end of the trial. The winner, Celia finally understands, is the one who remains alive.

Celia knows that the circus is exhausting her. There are so many people involved, all of whom she is responsible for in one way or another. She has to concentrate all her energies not only on keeping the magical illusions of the specialized tents alive but also on making sure no more people are hurt. She criticizes her father for putting so many lives at stake. When she asks him what happened to the winner of the last competition in which he and Mr. A. H. were involved, Hector tells her that the winner is now working for the circus, tying her body into knots—Tsukiko, the contortionist.

Once on the circus train and now heading for Germany, Celia approaches Tsukiko. She asks the contortionist questions concerning the challenge in which she was involved. Celia learns that Tsukiko’s opponent was a woman who is now dead. When Celia asks if Tsukiko will help her make the circus more independent, Tsukiko says she will not. She will, however, step in when Celia is unable to continue managing the responsibilities that are involved in keeping the circus and the people involved safe.

In the process of their discourse, Tsukiko asks if Celia is in love with Marco. Then she wants to know if Celia believes that Marco is in love with her. Tsukiko tells Celia that love is a fleeting thing, and she reminds Celia that Marco is a manipulator. She points out that Isobel once thought that Marco loved her. This conversation plants doubt in Celia’s mind as to whether Marco really loves her.

Pushing ahead one year, the story turns to Bailey once again. He is standing in the empty field where the circus had been. He is trying to recall all the details that Poppet has told him when he remembers that she had mentioned a train. He thinks there might be a chance of finding her if he goes to the train station, so he begins running in that direction. When he gets there, he finds a group of people huddled together on the platform. They are all wearing red scarves, the signature of the circus’s dedicated fans. When he asks if they are on their way to the circus, they reply in the affirmative. However, the circus never advertises where it is going next. So they are waiting to receive a telegram from other fans in other cities, who send word once the circus is seen. While they are talking, a man rushes toward them with a telegram in his hand. He announces that the circus has been sighted in New York.

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