The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 4, Chapters 10-11 Summary

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It is the first of November 1902 when Bailey breaks into the circus, which is closed due to inclement weather. He smells that something has burned, and the smell makes him feel nauseous. He runs to the courtyard and sees that the fire in the cauldron has been put out. Standing in front of it is Tsukiko, the contortionist. Tsukiko recognizes Bailey and tells him that he is late. Bailey has no idea what the woman is talking about. Tsukiko says that she does not believe that “she will be able to hold on much longer.” Bailey does not know to whom Tsukiko is referring. Bailey has many questions to ask Tsukiko, such as where Poppet is and what has happened to the fire and the circus. But Tsukiko does not answer. She merely tells Bailey that she is a messenger who has come to escort him to a meeting. She then leads Bailey to a special tent.

The story backs up one day to October 31. Marco magically appears at the circus. Tsukiko meets him. Marco wants to know how he got there. Tsukiko tells him that Isobel sent him. Tsukiko had taught Isobel how to do that trick with the black ash Isobel blew into his face. Tsukiko then informs Marco that he and she have something in common. Mr. A. H. trained both of them and set them up for challenges. Tsukiko then leads Marco out to the courtyard, where the fire is burning.

Marco questions Tsukiko about her experience in her challenge, which she says happened more than eighty years ago. She criticizes both Mr. A. H. and Hector, saying that they do not understand how difficult it is to bind two people together as they have with Celia and Marco. She then asks Marco if he loves Celia. Marco, of course, responds that he does. Tsukiko’s opponent was a women named Hinata, and Tsukiko loved her too. Her opponent stepped into a pillar of fire that she thought was water. That was how Tsukiko won the competition.

As they stand in front of the fire in the cauldron, Tsukiko asks Marco if he knows the story of Merlin, the magician who was imprisoned in a tree. Marco nods. Tsukiko says the magician was punished because of a foolish love. Then she asks Marco if he understands. Marco acknowledges that he does.

Before Marco can do anything, Celia runs toward him. She asks Tsukiko what she is doing. Tsukiko tells her that she is taking over. The only way to save the circus is for Marco to be banished. If he is gone, he can no longer affect the circus. The circus needs Celia more than it needs Marco, so Marco has agreed to jump into the fire, to become entrapped. Just before he does, Celia jumps into his arms. She whispers in Marco’s ear that he is to trust her. Together, they are consumed by the flames and disappear.

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Part 4, Chapters 12-14 Summary