A loving lineage of the proud customs and traditions of the horse-drawn, caravan circus of Europe in the latter half of the 19th century, the focus here is on Vasek, son of a Czech workman, whose training ends in the proprietorship of Umberto's Circus. From the glory of the original Umberto, through Berwitz who brought the circus to professional perfection, to the near-downfall that finance, ignoring of basic circus principles, and changing times threatened, down to Vasek who found a permanent home for it, the story is expanded, amplified and embroidered by the strange and wonderful lives that helped to make the circus a whole. From the lowliest workman, through the trainers, the performers, the bandsmen, the owners -- and their competitors, -- come the life stories, the memories and the tales of all who were, and had been, part of the Umberto show which serve to point up the tremendous store of legend and history that banded together an amalgam of nationalities. And Vasek, from his first day, was dedicated to the horses, the acrobatics, the wild animals so that when it was a question of the circus and Berwitz' daughter, or the girl he loved -- the circus was his choice. As a story and a novel this is surpassed by its lore and legend, its personalities and its pleasure in its subject.