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An In-Tents Experience….

The lad hauled himself out of the manhole by the Steamworks and carefully slid the cover back on. It had been some time since he had come by this route and it was good to see the place again. He turned to his right, sauntering along under the railway, then stood stock still, gazing in amazement.

Visible over the tall wall was the striped fabric of a huge Carnival Tent, twin poles reaching the sky, a rope strung between the two platforms that graced their tops. How could he have missed such a wonder? He raced around the end of the wall and up to the canopied enterence, expecting to discover the hustle and bustle of a newly arrived entertainment. To his disapointment it was quiet, the interior dark, lit only by the gloomy light straining through worn fabric. The sign by the enterence was faded and broken, he could just make out the words ‘Winter Quarters’, and the name ‘Harlequin’. Hold on, that was his name! He couldn’t remember ever owning a carnival, but there it was, in black and white… well, red and the wood of the planking, but it was the same thing really.

As it was his, he stepped into the tent boldly, though he still expected a yett of ‘geroutofhere!’ followed by someone trying to cuff him round the ear. It was almost a disapoint to find the place deserted, with just the ring and the stands in the middle of sandy floor. He checked in the back, where the acts would prepare, but there was nothing, not a hint of grease paint or even a pigmy elephant, just lots of dusty emptyness.

It was a bit of a puzzle, really, as he knew the Carnival folk always set up their tent at a Winter Quarters, to wait out the cold weather, hone their skills and repair the tent and other equipment. He had never heard of them packing up and going off without their tent before, maybe they had a new one, and had left this one for anyone who might need a bit of space and a roof, even a canvas one, over their heads? There was also the name, that must be a sign… errr… well.. it was a sign, or on a sign anyhow, which is much the same thing.. could a sign be a sign? Yes, had to be.

He looked around. It was dry and pleasently warm inside, and he could just lift the edge of the canvase and could feel a cool breaze coming off the canal. Out back there was a dock, not the most solid of things, but perfect if youwanted to bring some stuff in without too many people seeing. It was brilliant, and if no one else wanted it, he was going to claim it!

Pausing only to lace the flaps across the enterence, he dashed off to gather the troops.

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