There was a juggler in Great Park, the land of the King, who wanted to perform with the Juggling Master’s troupe more than anything else in the whole world. But he had something terrible hidden in his heart, a secret he had shared with no one man. . . .
The Apprentice Juggler was sure he would shame the troupe in tonight’s performance. He knew he would drop a baton during the pyramid cascade. Then, the Juggling Master would know his secret, and he would lose his place in the juggling group. A knot in the pit of his stomach felt like a tug-of-war between giants.
Standing in the middle of the practice field, the Apprentice Juggler warmed his hands in a patch of morning sunlight. He loosened his fingers with limbering exercises. He started tossing balls in a basic crisscross pattern.
The Apprentice Juggler concentrated. He could hear the words of Juggling Master’s first lesson. “Teach the balls to dance. The word ball is from the French. It means to dance. Make the balls dance!”
The balls did dance in the Apprentice Jugg1er’s hands. As long as he worked alone, he did fine. In this last year as an apprentice, he had learned to toss rings, batons, clubs, and eggs (unboiled ones even). He could spin plates on sticks. He could balance umbrellas on his forehead and shoulders and hands—all at the same time.
He put three balls in motion. Throw Throwcatch ‘Ir Catch; Throw i Throwcatch * Catch.
No one knew he was battling his inner count. No one knew that a different rhythm was ticking in his heart than in his hands.
It was only when the Apprentice Juggler worked with the other student jugglers, or when he did a routine with the troupe, that things went wrong.