Always the same show, but never exactly the same. Today the acrobat is blindfolded as he juggles the torches (and drops one), today he is wearing a sparkling copper head scarf that gleams as if pennies have been stitched to it. When the acrobat, instead of swallowing the third flaming torch, tugs wide his waistband and thrusts the torch into his pants, Claude cannot help but feel that he is being personally addressed.
The acrobat pulls the flaming torch out the leg of his shorts. The tourists sitting at lunch watch the show covertly, as if snitching grapes. When the acrobat comes around with his long red satin cap, the tourists stare past him. Claude hurriedly pulls bills from his pocket, smoothes them, arranges them in a neat pile with all the faces facing the same way, and thanks the acrobat vigorously from the bottom of his heart.
The acrobat pays zero attention to Claude. Pays no more notice of him than he does of the tourists being tight-fisted and rude.
Claude must throw all his neatly arranged bills into the red satin hat. What Claude feels is best described as reverence. Reverence is not at all too strong a word.