Allez! (Kuprin)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A young circus performer endured a harsh life, fell in love with a famous clown, and experienced heartbreak, ultimately leading to a tragic decision.

Nora, a young circus performer, had a difficult childhood filled with fear and pain. Her earliest memory was the command "Allez!" which she associated with the cold, dark circus ring, the smell of stables, and the pain of the whip.

Allez! In the empty circus it is cold and dark.

As she grew older, she performed various acts such as balancing on a trapeze, walking on a tightrope, and forming a living pyramid. Throughout her performances, the command "Allez!" continued to haunt her.

At the age of sixteen, Nora fell during a performance and injured her hand. Despite her pain, she was forced to continue performing. Around this time, she met Menotti, a famous clown who took an interest in her.

Nora — young circus performer; thin, half-childish arms; submissive, devoted.
Menotti — famous clown; square-built, short-legged; languid, patronizing, cruel.

Nora became infatuated with him and followed him from town to town, taking care of his wardrobe and assisting him in his acts. She believed in his fame and talent wholeheartedly.

After a year, Menotti grew tired of Nora and began to treat her poorly, often hitting her in front of others. Eventually, he told her to leave him, but she couldn't bring herself to do so. When she discovered him with another woman, she attacked the woman and begged Menotti to take her back. He refused and threatened to have her thrown out.

If you don’t go at once, I’ll have you thrown out of the place by the waiter.

In a desperate act, Nora climbed onto the windowsill of the room and prepared to jump. As she looked down at the street below, she felt the familiar fear and hesitation. But, just as she had done countless times in the circus, she closed her eyes, raised her hands, and cried out "Allez!" before jumping to her death.