“I’d much rather search a pumpkin patch than a dirt patch,” Snow moans, shuddering. They just arrived at the dirt patch and after looking around at the freshly turned dirt and the wooden markers in the ground, Snow wishes Sally were with her. She doesn’t want to be here alone with just a spider.
Frost attaches a thread to Snow’s hand (like a leash) and scurries over to a nearby stake. He seems to inspect it, then moves on to another. Snow follows him, still holding the web-leash. Finally, he finds a stake he seems to like and begins hopping and crawling all over the place.
“What’s that, boy?” Snow kneels down to look closer at the stake. She’s aware that her tights are getting dirtier, and her green dress must be filthy by now.
Snow looks back – at Barrel. He’s glaring at her. Pointing his lollipop at her accusingly, he shouts, “What are you doing there?”
“I was, um…”
“Get away from there!” He charges at her.
Panicked, Snow scrambles to her feet and runs, picking up the thread and cradling Frost in her hands. She dashes behind a grave, pausing for a moment’s breath. Barrel runs past, and she holds her breath. He doesn’t see her, and he keeps running through the dirt patch until he passes the hill and enters the pumpkin patch. When he disappears behind Spiral Hill, she creeps back to the stake that excited Frost. He crawls down to the tip of her finger. “What is it?” Snow whispers, afraid Barrel will hear and come back. Snow peers closer to the stake and reads the faint scratching on it: “LSB.”
“‘LSB?’ What’s that?”
“Barrel!” screeches Shock’s voice. She sounds close.
Snow gasps and sneaks behind a nearby gravestone, pressing herself flat to the ground. She hears padded footsteps run closer then stop. Shock and Lock must be here. “Barrel!” Lock shouts.
She can hear Barrel’s panting as he comes back. “Where were you?” Shock’s voice snaps.
Barrel pants loudly and heavily for several seconds before huffing, “That…girl.”
“The white-haired one?” Lock’s voice asks.
Barrel’s breath slows down. “Yeah. She was snooping by our stake.”
“What was she doing there?” Shock snaps.
“She could’ve found our box!” Lock grunts.
“We should have someone guard the stake at all times,” Shock says.
“Why?” Barrel asks. “Ow!” he says after a sound like a whack.
“You’re so stupid,” Shock jeers. “Think now: if that girl finds our box, she’ll give it back to Jack!”
“Yeah!” Lock says. “We don’t want Jack and Sally to get married!”
“But guys,” Barrel mumbles. He mumbles so low even Snow can’t hear him.
“What?” Shock says. Apparently, she and Lock didn’t hear him either.
“Why can’t we let them get married?” Barrel nearly shouts. There’s a stunned silence before Barrel shouts, “Ow!”
“Don’t tell us you’re starting to like them,” Lock says.
‘Poor Barrel,’ Snow thinks. ‘He shouldn’t be hit like that.’ Tears well up in her pale gray eyes.
"We don't like them!" Shock screams.
"Why not?" Barrel asks innocently.
"Because we're Boogie's Boys!" Lock says.
"But Oogie’s gone, and every time we try to bring him back, he just dies again. And, I kinda like Jack and Sally," he adds. "They’re nice together."
"You can’t be serious!" Shock says.
“You’re not a Boogie’s Boy!” Lock sneers. “Come back when you are again!”
“…Wait,” Barrel says. “Where are you going?”
“Somewhere without you.” Lock and Shock snicker, their voices getting quieter as they run away.
Snow can hear Barrel sniffle, and her heart melts. Placing her fingertips on top of the stone, she peeks over it – Barrel is sitting on the ground near the stake, crying and his lollipop in danger of falling from his hand onto the dirt. “Are you okay?” she softly asks.
Barrel looks over his shoulder at her. He manages a glare and says in as tough a voice as he can muster, “What are you doing here?” He’s biting his lip to keep it from trembling.
Snow rises to her feet. “I’m looking for the crown box.”
He turns his gaze from her, stares down at his feet. “You can’t have it,” he grumbles.
“But I have to give it to Jack and Sally so they can get married. They need those crowns.”
“They can’t have them.”
Sigh. ‘I’m getting nowhere with this.’ Coming out from behind the gravestone, she comes closer, leans down, and asks, “Do you know where they are?”
“Yeah, but you can’t have them.”
“Why did you take them?”
Barrel is silent for a while. When Snow opens her mouth to repeat the question, he finally answers, “We’re Boogie’s Boys. It’s what we do.”
Snow has no idea what a Boogie’s Boy is (considering Shock isn’t even a boy), but she kneels down next to him, touches his shoulder (he yanks away), and continues, “Why do you do this stuff? You don’t like doing it.”
Again, silence. “I dunno,” he admits, slouching a bit, his lollipop a mere inch from the ground. “It’s just what we’re used to. We’ve never done anything else.”
“Well, you can always try something different.”
He scoffs and looks back at her. “Easy for you to say, girlie. You’re not branded as a bad kid by the town.”
Snow freezes. They did that kind of stuff in Halloween Town? Christmas Town is much more forgiving, giving people second chances. An idea then pops in her head. “Maybe we can change that,” she tells him. “Can you help me find the crown box and bring it back? Maybe if they see you doing that, they won’t think of you as a bad kid.”
He groans. “I’ve never done anything by myself. I’ve always been with Lock and Shock.”
“Well, I could be with you when you bring the box back.”
Barrel thinks about it, then says, “Fine. I’ll do it.”
Snow smiles. “Yay!...Um, where is it?”
“Right here.” He gets to his knees and with one hand digs up the spot where the LSB stake is. Snow unsurely joins him, and after a few minutes of digging their nails scratch at wood. They brush off some more dirt and they see mahogany wood with tarnished silver fastenings.
The crown box.