3. Summer: On Display (Part 2)

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She held back the cloth door so that we could shuffle in. This section of the tent was darker, and somehow colder. It did not smell of animals, but dust and stale human sweat. I wrapped my arms about myself.

The woman snapped her fingers and the glass globes brightened. In a large circle men and women stood, or sat upon stools. Small plaques were hammered into the ground in front of them. Like the others, I gawked.

The middle-aged red-haired woman nearest to me looked like anyone's mother, aside from the fact that she had a bushy moustache and beard. She wore a long dress with a flowered print and an apron to heighten the oddness of her ginger beard. Her blue eyes crinkled at me and I averted my gaze. I raised a hand to my still-smooth cheek and wondered if I would ever sprout hair.

"Bethany here was a perfectly normal girl from the village of Rionan, but when she entered her blossoming time, she ended up growing a beard as well as breasts!" our guide said.

The strongman from the circus act had a pile of wooden planks, and he picked one up and snapped it as if it were sugar glass.

"Mr Karg here grew up in Girit on a farm. They used him instead of a plough-horse because he was stronger."

Next to him, to provide the utmost juxtaposition, was a tiny man who came up to my waist. His face was hand- some, with swarthy skin and a furrowed brow underlined by thick black eyebrows.

"Mr Tin is the tiniest man in Ellada, but he has the biggest of tempers." The dwarf scowled at the woman and looked as if he would like nothing more than to kick her kneecaps.

A woman seated on a stool waved, and she seemed normal at first glance. She was perhaps thirty, with a handsome face and dark brown hair coiled into a bun, and she wore a maroon dress several years out of fashion. The woman held the taffeta skirt bunched in her lap so that we could see her pantalooned legs. Two of her legs were perfectly normal, finely-muscled legs in delicately- heeled black boots. But from her lower belly sprouted what looked like two child's legs, complete with shiny black children's shoes. She wiggled first her normal legs and then twitched her tiny legs. My mouth dropped open in shock and the four-legged woman laughed coyly.

"Madame Limond is one of the rarest women in the entire world. She has two pairs of fully functional legs and two working pelvises." She paused significantly, though at the time the allusion was lost on me.

A man wearing only a loincloth posed for us, covered head to toe in tattoos depicting all the myths I had heard growing up. The Lord of the Sun shone from the right side of the man's chest, his head crowned in sunrays, his hands aflame. The Lady of the Moon glimmered on the left side of his chest, her head haloed by a crescent moon. Female Chimaera were inked along his stomach and back–mermaids, centaurs, angels. Monsters twined about his calves – two hydra, two dragons, and a sea serpent. He flexed his muscles, causing the monsters and women to dance.

A man with the pimpled skin of a chicken bobbed his head and gazed at us over the beak of his nose, the slack skin of his neck wobbling. He wore a bobbled red cap and a yellow outfit. Our flame-haired narrator named him "Poussin." I half-expected him to squawk.

Next was the "Leopard Lady of Linde," though she looked as though she might have been from Byssia. Most of her skin and hair were bleached, like the white clown of the circus performance. Dark rosettes dotted her skin. Her eyes were ringed like a cat's. She was beautiful, her limbs long and graceful, as though she could sprint away at a moment's notice. Her skirt came to her knees, leaving her spotted legs shockingly bare. A man came too close for her liking. She hissed at him, flashing her pointed canines.

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