DISASTERS: Six Minutes

The smoking little flame wavered higher up the side of the cavernous tent in the big lot at Hartford, Conn. The thousands of women and their children, and the scattering of coatless men massed in the bleachers, sat quietly, second after second, watching the high-wire performers of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show On Earth. They breathed the circus smells of peanuts and tigers, in the hot afternoon air, and listened to the thumping circus music. Some of them watched the harmless-looking little fire crawling up the canvas.

Then the...

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