Jim rides into town and goes up to a newsstand. He asks the proprietor for the Western Travelers Gazette
and the owner gives him the last copy. Inside is a circled advertisement for the Samson & Delilah Tonsorial Emporium and Jim gets directions to it from the proprietor. Once the agent leaves, the proprietor gestures to a man standing nearby and the man goes off.
Jim arrives at the barbershop and the lady barber, Delilah, welcomes him. The agent explains that he was supposed to meet Artie there, but Delilah doesn’t know Artie. She asks her customer, Mr. Claymore, whose face is wrapped up in a hot towel, but he hasn’t heard of Artie either. The barber invites him to wait and offers a haircut, and Jim asks for a shave. Delilah puts a hot towel on his face and then removes the towel from “Mr. Claymore”... who is Dr. Loveless, using a pair of fake legs to make himself appear normal-sized beneath the cover. Loveless administers an anesthetic to Jim’s towel, rendering the agent unconscious, and then picks up a razor and says it should be sharp enough.
Jim is dropped through a trapdoor into a darkened funhouse filled with mannequins and masks while a voice chants the poem, “Monday’s Child” and maniacal laughter echoes in the background. As he recovers his senses, a judge appears in a flash of smoke from a giant lion’s mouth. Jim recognizes him as Judge Fairlie and tries to make the stunned man comfortable. Several thugs come out and attack Jim, who disposes of them. However, Judge Fairlie has disappeared and been replaced with a sign saying, “Thursday’s Child has far to go.” When Jim runs to the chair, a trapdoor opens beneath him while Loveless watches from within a suit of armor and laughs.
Jim wakes up and finds himself back in the barber’s chair. An hour has passed and the barber is a different woman. She insists that she’s Delilah and Jim goes back to the proprietor’s stand. The stand and the owner are gone, but Jim’s horse is still there. A man walks by and says there has never been a newsstand there.
Jim returns to the Wanderer
and is surprised to find fellow agent Jeremy Pike there. Colonel Richmond comes in and explains that Artie is on his way to Washington on special assignment. Jeremy has been assigned to Jim and is familiar with their current Rocky Mountain assignment. They’ve received news that Judge Fairlie has been abducted and Jim says that he already knows. Jeremy goes over Fairlie’s record and Jim figures that someone went to elaborate lengths to give him first-hand knowledge of Fairlie’s abduction. Richmond has checked on funhouses and discovered that the only one is heading for Fiddler’s Bend and was 20 miles away when Jim was abducted. The report on Fairlie mentions that he was going to Scotland for a jurisprudence conference and Jim figures the reference to Thursday’s child referred to Fairlie going somewhere far. Jeremy identifies the poem and points out that Fairlie was kidnapped on a Thursday. When he mentions the line about Monday’s child being “fair of face,” Richmond realizes that it refers to actress Linn Carstairs, who disappeared a week ago on a Monday.
The agents go to the theater and talk to the manager, who explains that a swan seat dropped down. The manager figured that Linn had arranged it, but when it came back down, she disappeared. Jeremy traces the route of the kidnappers to where they used a rigged elevator to lower her to the ground. He also found a goblet containing traces of an expensive brandy, cognac de grande margerie. They realize that the man in charge was sipping brandy while his underlings handled the kidnapping. Jeremy suggests that Tuesday’s child is the abducted ballet master, Ivan Kalinkovitch, who was called away from rehearsal a week ago. The only abduction on a Wednesday was jockey Biff Trout, who disappeared in a bank of smoke in the middle of race. However, there’s no connection that he is “full of woe,” but realize that the poem refers to “whoa.” A sandbag suddenly drops on them and the agents duck away just in time. When they examine the bag, they discover that it has “Friday’s Child” printed on it. Once they recover, the agents figure that they’re being spoon-fed clues. They decide that the circus bears investigation and Jim rides to Fiddler’s Bend while Jeremy decides to find someone interested in buying rare brandy.
At the circus, Loveless pours brandy for himself and Delilah, dressed as a trapeze acrobat. They then go into the tent where Loveless’ four prisoners are caged. Loveless greets each one of them, who dismiss him as mad. When they wonder what he’s going to do with them, he says that they’ll have to wait until their next “guest” arrives. When Loveless discovers that he is out of brandy, he calls in his assistant Pylo and tells him to get some no matter what it takes. Once Pylo leaves, Loveless offers a toast to the time when all of his guests are present.
Delilah takes a carriage to Fiddler’s Bend and goes to the blacksmith, Abbie Carter. She asks him to fix her carriage and he helps her down. When he climbs up to examine it, he notices a handle and tugs on it. It electrocutes him when he touches it, stunning him, and Loveless peers out from the back of the carriage, smiling in satisfaction.
Jim rides into town that night past the now-empty blacksmith’s shop. He goes to the sheriff’s office and introduces himself. The sheriff says that no one is missing from Fiddler’s Bend, and says that the circus should be arriving anytime. He gives Jim’s directions to where they’re setting up and the agent starts to leave. As he goes, Abbie’s wife comes in and asks the sheriff if he’s seen her husband. Jim confirms that Abbie is a blacksmith and realize that he is Friday’s child, and tells the sheriff to list Abbie as missing.
Jeremy goes to a store posing as a liquor salesman and tries to make a sale. The storekeeper isn’t interested but Pylo overhears them talking and offers to buy his cognac. Pylo takes out a large bundle of cash and offers to pay, but Jeremy says it’s his only sample and asks where he can send a supply. When Pylo draws a gun and threatens to shoot him, Jeremy threatens to drop the bottle and Pylo tells him to deliver it to the Wells Fargo office in Denver by the next day. Once Pylo leaves, Jeremy asks the storekeeper who might match the description of Saturday’s child as loving and giving, and the storekeeper says that old Cyrus Barlow would fit the bill.
In Denver, Cyrus is examining his collection of butterflies when the butler, Wallace, announces Jeremy. Jeremy warns him that someone plans to kidnap him but Cyrus doesn’t believe it. Even after the agent explains everything that has happened, Cyrus still doesn’t believe he is in danger. He agrees to describe his daily routine and Jeremy convinces Cyrus to let the agent take his place. The disguised Jeremy is soon following Cyrus’ routine and stops at a flower stand. Delilah has taken the owner’s place, claiming that he’s filling in for her. Loveless’ thugs take out Cyrus’ driver while Jeremy collapses when Delilah gives him a drugged flower.
Jim is walking by a saloon when he hears a ventriloquist performing inside. The dummy looks like Loveless and talks about Jim’s funeral. When Jim approaches the stage, a saloon girl distracts him long enough for Loveless and the ventriloquist to slip away. The agent goes backstage and hears Loveless laughing and talking to the ventriloquist, Tiny. A door opens and Jim barges in, only to find a real dummy seated at the dressing table. The wall slides away, revealing Loveless and Tiny. Tiny has a steam pipe running into his back, attached to the organ that Loveless is seated at. When Loveless plays the organ, Tiny charges at Jim, who ducks aside. The steam-powered robot, impervious to fists and bullets, charges at Jim and starts choking him. After a moment, Jim passes out and Loveless stops playing. Delilah comes in and Loveless assures her that he has the perfect plan for disposing of the agent.
When Jim wakes up, he finds himself inside of a luxurious coffin, complete with a gramophone and a record of Loveless singing. Jim looks out the window and realizes his plight: the coffin is dozens of feet underwater. Water starts leaking in and Jim uses a hidden hydraulic jack to break open the roof of the coffin and make his escape.
Later, Jim makes his way to the circus and tries to buy a ticket from Pylo. Pylo says that that there’s no performance even though there is applause from the tent and Jim insists. When the agent goes inside, he takes a seat in the darkened stands. Once the performance is over, the lights come up, revealing that Loveless’ thugs surround Jim. Loveless, Delilah, and Tiny are there with Tiny dressed as a judge. The five prisoners are also there, and Loveless explains that he plans to punish those who have incurred his wrath. Six of the thugs will serve as executioners, Tiny as judge, and a box of clown mannequins as jury.
Loveless begins with Linn, accusing her of abandoning a protégé that he sent to her for help with her career. The jury finds her guilty and Loveless orders the death penalty. Ivan pirated a ballet that Loveless wrote. Fairlie order the execution of Loveless’ friend and Abbie was the foreman on the jury and held out for a guilty verdict. Biff threw a race that Loveless bet on. Jim asks about Saturday and Sunday and Loveless has the disguised Jeremy brought out. Loveless explains that he’s to be executed for being childish and wasteful, and Jeremy asks to present his case directly to the jury. As he talks, Jeremy removes a mechanical butterfly from his jacket and winds it up. Loveless explains that he appealed to Cyrus for financing for his project to make men equal in stature by shrinking down everyone to his size, but Cyrus refused him.
That leaves Sunday’s child, “bonnie and brave.” Loveless turns to Jim. While he rants, Jeremy releases the windup butterfly and then chases after it with a butterfly net. It explodes and Jim tackles the thugs while Jeremy drops a net on the others. Loveless sends Tiny to fight the agents but Jim blows up the steam cable with plastic explosive. Seeing that he’s lost, Loveless has Delilah shoot him out of tent in a circus cannon. By the time Jim and Artie get outside, all that is there is a Loveless dummy with a voicebox that warns there will be another time.
Later aboard the Wanderer
, Jeremy reads the newspaper which reports that the police rounded up the rest of the gang, including Delilah. Jim is playing with a maze toy but assures Jeremy that he’s listening. However, Jeremy realizes that he isn’t and Jim admits that he’s thinking of his partner in Washington. They share a toast and pour a glass for Artie, and are surprised when the brandy in the glass disappears on its own.