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Chapter 6

He grew quieter, more composed, after this incident, although he continued to toss and moan in his sleep. She at last succeeded in discovering what it was he was trying so desperately to achieve; he wanted to stand on his hands, a globe balancing upon the soles of his feet, while he flung his head back the better to juggle upon his forehead with a cup, a saucer and a spoon. Foolish Nurdo! He who earned a comfortable salary by standing upright to toss colored balls into the air, must needs torture himself, deprive himself of food and sleep, simply because he could not perform the same tricks turned upside down! But she was happier, for despite his glumness he now treated her gently, with consideration.

The circus arrived in Bruges.

Here, it seemed, were peace and beauty. The city rose like a jewel from the dank mists of a Flemish autumn. The sad mellow houses, so gravely reflected in the dark mirrors of canals, huddled close together, brooding, enchanted, for this was surely the secret city of the Sleeping Beauty, that none might dare disturb. The spires of many churches floated in the air, seeming to tremble in the dim dreamy light of a day that would swiftly be fïnished and done with. Bells chimed, remote, silverthroated, muted by the mist rising so palely from the secret waterways of this strange town.

In a corner of the Grande Place the circus tent struggled to life like some gray monster rearing itself awake. Outside the tent they strung together an arch of tulip-colored fairy-lights, and thumped at the big drum until it drowned the music of the bells. A group of people collected at