Dakota marched in to the ring, cracking her whip along the floor. The audience hushed, realising that the show was continuing. Some rushed back to their seats.

Dakota's first trick was to slice in half a variety of objects including an empty cup offered by an audience member. She then asked for an assisstant and they stood in the ring, holding a candle. She flexed the whip and cracked it once. The flame went out, and the crowd roared. The audience member's colour re-appeared in her cheeks and she returned to her seat. For her final trick, Dakota had one of the clowns come out wearing his costume. He stood in the centre, and she paraded around him, getting the audience to cheer and clap in rhythm. Then she stood in front of the clown, and a few whip cracks later, he stood un harmed. The audience fell silent. Nothing had happened. Then Dakota gave one more flick and his whole costume came off, revealing an enormous pair of polka dot pants. He pulled a shocked face, squeezed his red nose, and scuttled off. Dakota turned, bowed, then ran off.

She went straight to the entrance and sat with Corinne. They watched the show in silence. The finale was nigh.


Lights blared, and each member of the circus strutted out in to the ring. The took their bows amongst fire breathing and water squirting (from the clowns, at the audience) and then left the ring. They had to maintain the illusion, and were not allowed to change in to their normal clothes until the audience had gone, in case they were seen.

Dakota was brushing Apollo when Cassidy came up to her.

"Dakota?" She looked round at Cassidy to show her she was listening and continued to brush Apollo and take out the decoration in his mane. "I was wondering... I know you can read and write..."

"You want me to teach you?"

"Yeah. I mean, I've wanted to learn, but there's never any books and my father..." Dakota snorted slightly at the mention of Bartholomew, "my father," Cassidy continued, well aware of the tension between the two, "has never had the time."

"I can teach you everything I know Cassidy. I want what is best for you. But you must not take this lightly. It will be hard work, especially at your age."

"I want to learn."

"Well then, I expect I shall see you tomorrow morning, bright and early at my trailer then. Now take a brush and get Sky thoroughly brushed down."

The End

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