The man pulling down a rope

In the so-called Tower Street, that is, the street, on the west side of which stands the church with the high tower, stretches two rows of fairgrounds, where fairground visitors can buy children’s toys, cakes, chocolate, fries and more.

Among these tents stand others, where rings are bet on throwing around knives, standing a little behind and in long rows on a sloping board. In others the visitors find an opportunity to make their portraits, to explore their future, to see a fat, three-hundred-pound lady, or a horse with five feet and other wonders.

Near that camp, in a side street in front of the public school, a carousel turns. It is full of boys and girls. Some sit on a wooden horse, others on a wooden sea-woman with a beautiful curved tail, or on a wooden yawning lion with long manes.

Right next to the carousel stands a long post, on which is nailed an iron box, in the middle of which is a round protruding button. The children, who turn the carousel very fast, hold a thin iron spear in their hand, and each in turn tries to touch and push the button into the box. The button corresponds to an automaton and if the button is touched hard enough, that automaton takes effect and jumps up from the casket a man’s grimacing wooden head. The happy boy who jumped his head up that way doesn’t need to pay for the next spin.

While a large organ, standing on the thick axis of the carousel, is playing, the boys fly around the box with dizzying speed and the tinkling of their spears on the box mixes with the sounds of the organ and the loud cries and laughter of the organ. children.

Moses, however, does not participate in that tournament game. The spear he had held in his hand from the beginning of the turn remained motionless. He doesn’t aim for the button to automatically display the grimacing male head; he only looks before himself and at his mother when his lion in flying speed passes her. He listens to the organ, which does not play psalms, but waltzes and musicals from operas. It has just started playing the Valpurgis night from Faust, and the boy is enchanted by the beautiful music that touches his whole soul. In the meantime he turns and turns; every time the lion flies past the mutineer, he looks at her, always listening to the opera music. He doesn’t think about leaving his place and for each turn of the carousel, which lasts about three minutes, he pays one cent to the carouselist. This one finds him a handsome boy; he taps him on the shoulder or on the cheek or on the beautiful curls every time he gets the penny and Moses smiles, turns and listens. More than twenty times he had paid a penny, and in the meantime he had heard the Valpurgis night at least ten times, so that he knew by heart the whole melody, which, however, did not bore him. Finally he feels, that vertigo will seize him, and he will rise up after the lion. The mutineer immediately runs up and helps him out of the carousel, and they go in pairs to the Tower Street to look at and admire the tents. In front of one of them they stop.

Toys are sold there, and Rika is looking for what she will buy for the boy, as she has seen other women do the same for their boys and girls. The tentmaker shows guns, soldier’s hats and so on, but Moses doesn’t want them. The tentman searches further and grabs whistles from tin, whistles at them to make the beautiful sound, and Moses picks one. Rika however buys three of different length, and the boy is happy with the treasure. Now he can make music himself. Rika pays and she walks on with Moses.

It is now three o’clock in the afternoon. Walking past all the tents, they finally reach the end of the street. Going left along another street, they see at a distance on a square in front of a hotel the circus of Blanus and company. This circus has been visiting for many years all the fairs of the big villages in the province of Groningen. The circus is small, owns only one horse, but because of a few other amazing animals collaborating, and because of some good artists the director Blanuso everywhere has enough success to earn the daily bread for all the fellow humans and animals.

The performance is about to begin and Harlequin in a mixed-color costume loudly announces to “the esteemed public” that one must hurry to buy tickets, as there are only a few unoccupied seats left in the circus.

Many people with children come in and Rika, reading the curiosity on Moses ’face, buys two tickets for forty cents each, and she enters with the boy.

It’s the first time Rika has seen the inside of a circus. So far Moses was too young to attend a presentation, and she herself never felt a desire to enter. She now enters with Moses, and only because of him. The harlequin shows the places where they sit, and they sit. Almost all places are occupied. Rika and Moses look around, patiently waiting for what will happen in this strange, round, canvas-covered tent, the inside of which looks like a giant white umbrella.

On the circular floor lies a thick layer of beautifully raked sand.

Outside, the harlequin is still urging the “esteemed public” to buy the last available tickets immediately, and while the still unoccupied seats are gradually being taken, the presentation begins.

Next to Rika, in a place separated from all other seats, sit three musicians who play with all their might. The music is not very beautiful, but because the ears of villagers are not usually pampered, the “esteemed public” find it quite beautiful; most do not even listen to the music played on flute, violin and small drum.

Moses listens intently to the newly started waltz, but the mute woman, who does not understand what that violinist, the flutist, and the drummer are doing, no longer pays attention to them. She looks around and becomes curious. “Then what will happen under this huge umbrella, from the top of which hang two ropes with a thick horizontal stick?” What good are other ropes attached to the stakes at the entrance to the circus? ‘That’s what she thinks.

Next to Moses, who is only looking at the fast fingers of the flutist and the violinist, sits his friend, the spice-maker Pentman, who is very glad that the finder happens to be sitting right next to him because he loves to chat with the boy.

– Nice circus, isn’t it, Moses? He says.

– Yes … and beautiful music.

Pentman, who had heard the music of the military staff in the city many times, laughed at the boy’s naivete; he says, however:

– Oh yes, pretty enough.

– Is it difficult to play on such an instrument? – and Moses points to the violin.

“On the violin?”

– Yes.

‘I don’t know why you ask that?

– Because I would like to learn to play on it.

The spice-maker laughs, then asks further:

“Have you never heard a violin before?”

“Only the organ in Brej, and the one in the carousel. The one in the carousel plays beautifully, I listened to it,” and, appearing a flute from under his coat, he asked:

– Could I learn to play that on the flute that the carousel organ played?

‘Perhaps, Moses; you will be able to try.

“I’ll try.” Moses undercuts the flute again, then pointing to the hanging staff, he asks Pentman:

“What is that?”

‘That’s a trapeze.

“What’s the use of a trapeze?”

‘The harlequin will work on it.

“Will it work?” – Moses does not understand how to “work” on such a staff.

‘Yes, you’ll see at once, but something else will happen sooner.


The spice maker has a program and he explains:

– First the director will ride on his horse, which he will dance.

– Can the horse dance !?

‘Yes, and then the harlequin will show up and play some fun.

“What is that?”

‘You see, I can’t explain that well; and then a young lady will come in and dance on that rope.

“On that rope?” – Moses does not believe this, and the spice-maker further explains:

“Yes, but first the rope will be pulled from here to there,” and he shows the places.

“What will happen next?”

– Then there will be a temporary entertainment again and then there will be a very nice number, in which four animals will take part, riding on top of each other …

The spice man wants to continue the explanation and read the whole program, but is interrupted by the appearance of the director. On the only horse of the circus he rides, stops in the middle of the arena, and the horse pays homage to “the esteemed public”; after the bow the animal dances gracefully, while the music plays: “On the waves” by Straus.