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Emmie Kirkwood clapped along with everyone else in the audience at the antics of a clown and a dressed-up bear. She shivered at the thought of being so near such a creature. Or the tiger jumping through hoops in the other ring.

It was not a place she would have come on her own. Only by the side of her handsome intended, Daniel, and an appropriate chaperone would she step a foot in such a place. She might be a simple factory girl, but she had her standards.

With three rings, and the balancing act up above them, it was hard to keep track of all the happenings. The exhaustion seeping through her didn't help. After working for twelve hours she ached everywhere.

She'd worn her best dress, a simple frock of white with small flowers, for an outing such as this? The sounds, the booming announcements from the rings, the constant applause, the aromas of food, straw, animals, and sweaty people came together to set her on edge.

In fact, it threatened to make her sick.

"Look at the bear." Daniel offered her his small sack of snacks.

She pushed his hand aside. "No, thank you."

His mother grabbed the bag out of his hand. As she gobbled the contents she let out a loud belch, eliciting several disapproving glances from those sitting nearby.

How could her prim and proper intended come from such a creature? Her dress hem was ragged, a patch on the sleeve, she reeked of alcohol, and Emmie was sure the woman wore no corset.

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