Finally, Snow and Jack leave the lab. Barrel is spending the night with the doctor, fearful that if he went back to the Tree House, his siblings would gang up on him. “So, how was your day?” Snow asks Jack. It’s what she and her elf friends do when school finished for the day.
He sighs. “Busy. I’ve been running around in circles trying to get everything organized.”
“Not your fault,” he assures her with a smile. His smile vanishes as he contemplates something. “Snow, have you figured out where you’re going to spend the night?”
Snow stops in her tracks. “No,” she mumbles. “I never thought about that.”
“You can stay at my house for the night, then.”
She looks up at him with a sparkle in her pale gray eyes. “Really?”
“Cool! I mean, thanks,” she says hurriedly.
He chuckles, then looks up at the sky. “It’s getting dark. We should hurry up.” Sure enough, the sky was red and orange in the west with the dark blue blanket of night coming in from the east.
Snow yawns right then. “I’m kinda tired,” she moans.
He rubs her back. “We’ll be home soon. Your bag’s already at the house, so you don’t have to worry about calling Santa or your parents. Though I have some paper at home if you want to write them a letter about how your day went. I don’t know if they’ll be expecting some sort of word from you.”
“You mean like a magic paper airplane?” Snow remembers the letter from yesterday.
“Sure I’ll send one.” She and Jack continue their walk to the house, her yawning here and there. Finally, they trudge up the stairs and he opens the door for her.
“Oh, Snow,” he says, “there’s something white on your shoulder.”
She looks down at her right shoulder. “Oh, that’s just Frost, my ice spider.” Once inside, she makes her way to the wooden bookcase.
“From Christmas Town?”
She nods and says, “Mmhmm.” She looks for the snowglobe – sure enough, right next to it is the book on Halloween history. She pulls it out, looks at the orange jack-o-lantern on the gray cover. “Is this it?” She holds it out so he can see.
With one glance, he says, “Yes, that’s it.” He goes over to the wingback chair near the fireplace and plops down with a huge sigh. “It feels so good to rest.”
She feels sorry for him. Even though she wants to write her parents, she doesn’t know where the paper and pens are. She doesn’t want to make him get up again, so she keeps quiet. Instead, she carries the book with her over to the gray, plush couch Santa sat on earlier and opens the book, skimming the pages for anything about the Pumpkin King legend.
Aha! Here it is: The First Pumpkin King. She begins to read.
“Before there was Halloween Town, there was a small community of farmers and merchants, all under the control of the Governor. He treated all the people in the community like slaves, taking much from them and giving very little back. There were several small rebellions, but he beat them down, breaking the spirits of many a villager.
“One villager, a farmer, refused to give up. His spirit couldn’t be broken. He gathered together a group of outcasts to sneak into the Governor’s house and take back what belonged to the villagers, free the imprisoned villagers who couldn’t pay their debts, and get the Governor to give up his power. The perfect time to do so was the Autumn Ball, 31 October.
“When the ball came around, he and the outcasts dressed up in their disguises to sneak into the ball. Now, the Governor suspected something might happen that night, so he kept only the ballroom lit, discouraging any from venturing into the dark hallways. The farmer was clever, though, and thought to bring a lantern, though since he was a poor man, he had to carve a lantern from one of the pumpkins he grew. By the light of the pumpkin lantern, he made his way down into the dank cellars, releasing all the terrified villagers from the stone cells. He gave them candles he found in one of the other rooms, and they all fled the cellars, taking back everything they could find that had been theirs.
“Finally, they made it back to the ballroom, and they caused quite a scene. The Governor, though surprised, stubbornly held his ground, threatening to kill some of them. The farmer was furious, and quickly he fashioned a disguise from part of a fallen red curtain, a black suit he found in another room, and his lantern, appearing as a noble ghost with a pumpkin head.
“The Governor trembled with fear at the sight of the specter, and the farmer, using his spookiest voice, told the Governor to leave forever. The Governor fled the village, much to everyone’s delight, and he was never heard from again. The people felt, though, that they needed a leader, a good one. They asked the farmer if he would be their king, and he accepted. They renamed the village Halloween Town, and they called the farmer their ‘Pumpkin King,’ in honor of the famous lantern.”
Snow ignores the rest of the biography and closes the book. So, Pumpkin King referred to a pumpkin used as a lantern? By further extent, she mused, it had something to do with light. Lantern, light....She opens her mouth to ask Jack something, but he is already sound asleep in the chair, mouth slightly open, emanating a small snore. She giggles to herself. “Good night, Jack,” she whispers.
She notices a white blob on the couch. Frost. He’s making another web along the back of it. When he’s finished, it reads, “Good night.”
She giggles softly again. “Good night, Frost.” He scurries off the couch onto the side table, where he makes a small web and lays on it.
She lays the book softly on the glass table in front and gets up, getting her bag which is at the doorway leading into the kitchen. She then starts searching around the house for the bathroom, trying to do it herself instead of waking Jack. Climbing up the spiral staircase to the next floor, she spots an open door leading into a small bathroom. “Yes!” she hisses. She slips inside and shuts and locks the door. Put on long white nightgown, brush teeth, brush hair, go to the bathroom. She’s almost ready for bed, but she hesitates, looking at her crystal star necklace in the mirror. She gently touches it, remembering what her parents told her when they first gave it to her: “Remember, Snow: Christmas is more than just the decorations and colors and music. You don’t have to have the biggest or the best of anything. And it’s more than just the presents. Anyone can buy those things any time of the year, but Christmas is the time to give something special to others, a time to make others happy. Never forget that, Snow.”
Her parents’ words echo in her mind. Christmas is the time to give something special…to make others happy.
‘Jack and Sally are trying hard to make others happy,’ she thinks. ‘They deserve to be happy, too. It’s their wedding after all.’
She decides to leave her necklace on, as a reminder of home. Packing her uniform in her bag, she exits the bathroom and makes her way downstairs, still thinking. ‘They’re making others happy…kinda like what elves do in Christmas Town,’ she muses. ‘And Jack has a snowglobe in his bookcase. Maybe they’re more like Christmas than I thought.’
Her mental connections between the two holidays come to a stop as she realizes how cold it is down here. She scans the room for a blanket or a quilt. Or even an afghan. She sees nothing down here, and she doesn’t want to search the whole house for something. Sigh. Back home, if it got too cold at night, some of the girls in her dorm would sleep together in a huddle. Snow looks over at Jack still in the chair. There isn’t enough room for anyone else, and even if there were, she’s not sure how warm he would keep her. Yawning, she sets her bag underneath the side table, takes out her red sweater, and lies down on the couch, using her sweater as a makeshift blanket. “Good night,” she says to no one in particular.