in which: Will witnesses real magic
Will fell in step beside the Master. They were headed for the bigtop, and Will want to speak with his employer before they were surrounded by acrobats and clowns. He spoke quickly. “Why did you hire that girl?”
The Master swung his arms with each step. “She is brilliant! She will be our new best act, you’ll see! She took to that wire- in pointe shoes, no less!- like most girls take to that brother of yours.” This simile was followed by a delighted laugh. “She is perfect.”
Will was not convinced. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to hire her. She could be dangerous- she notices everything. She spotted mistakes in Rich’s performance that I even missed. She’s quick. She could interfere with our other…sleight of hand.”
“What are you implying, my boy? Are you loosing your touch? If I have to replace you, you know I can. I always enjoy adding new children to our family.”
“I don’t think it has come to that, sir,” Will said wryly. “I just think we should be more careful. I’ve never met anyone like her.” Will rarely spoke this much at one time, and he may as well have kept his mouth shut now, for the little attention that was paid him.
The Master had heard nothing.“Who knows! With her drawing more crowds, we may not need to employ you and your brothers’ additional services.” The Master waved him off. “Besides, when someone makes me nervous, I like knowing where they are and what they do. We can keep an eye on her this way.”
Will would not be gotten rid of that easily. The thought of that girl coming under the Master’s thumb was unsettling enough, but even more than that; he was not about to leave the future of his work in the hands of a ballerina. The portion he received from pickpocketing was how he and Rich lived. “But, sir-!”
The Master whirled on his heel and jabbed a finger in Will’s chest. “That girl is magic, William. Have you seen her work?”
Will shook his head.
Will pulled the wrinkle from his waistcoat. “I don’t believe in magic,” he muttered.
His employer gave a short laugh. “You don’t, eh? f you don’t believe in it, how can I trust you to convince others that magic is real? That is why I pay you, isn’t it? Come with me. You’ll believe- as soon as you see her.”
Will shook his head, but obeyed and followed the Master under the tent and into the center ring.
“Look!” The ring master demanded proudly, pointing upward.
The wire was so high. He braced himself as his stomach lurched.
Lucy was flying. Her arms were her wings, raised in graceful arcs over her head, now lowering slowly out to the side. Her hair was loose and full, and though Will was too far away to see her face, he could tell she was smiling. Her whole being smiled down on him. He hardly saw the wire at all; she was floating in a little bubble of a world that was all her own.
The young magician had never felt freedom. He had no comprehension of what it was like to be lighter than air, and no upstanding of what it meant to be completely uninhibited by anyone or anything, but this slip of a girl was light itself; a ray of sun that could not be measured or contained.
She was free. She danced as if there was no gravity to pull her from her sky, no rain clouds to shroud her, and no cynic to scorn her.
Perhaps that is why she filled his soul with delight. A delight from which his head was trying desperately to dissuade him.
He watched, oblivious to the Master’s admiring exclamations, cheers, and the knowing looks cast in Will’s direction.
Will was startled by the Master’s hand coming down with a firm clap on his shoulder. “Well, what do you think, Doubting Thomas?”
Will found he could not quite speak. He swallowed against a dry throat. “It’s magic.”
The Master let out a roar of laughter. “What did I tell you? If *you* can see it, then our worries are over.”
Will swallowed again and fought to put a crooked smile on his face as he realized what would happen to Lucy’s freedom now that she belonged to the circus. He knew from experience what happened when you let yourself be owned by the Master, and he knew his own worrying had only just begun.