It was nearly the end of October in New Puddlington, and the young Puddle Pixies were looking forward to their Halloween celebrations, as young folk do all over the universe.
The Whistling Wind was out and about early that year, and was having great fun blowing the red, yellow and gold leaves off the trees and whirling and swirling them around. They often came to rest in the puddles, where they looked rather like shoals of brightly-coloured fish floating about, jostling each other for space.
The fields were bare and dull, except for the rows of bright orange pumpkins in the Pumpkin Patch, quietly growing larger and larger on their deep green vines, waiting to be picked in time for Halloween, their most important time of year – for what would Halloween be without pumpkins?
Now, humans as well as Puddle Pixies know all about Halloween – it is All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, and is the time when all the mischief in the world comes out to play, and Wicked Witches as well as all manner of other troublesome creatures are free to practise their naughty tricks. Luckily for the Puddle Pixies, many years ago the great and good Lord Merlin, Wizard of all Wizards, had got so angry at the havoc caused by the Wicked Witches, that he had used his most powerful magic to banish them to a faraway land from which they could not escape, so that Puddle Pixies and other good folk could live in peace.
Still, there remained some bad folk who continued to be a nuisance, so the Puddle Pixies always made their magic pumpkin lanterns with fearsome faces to scare them away at Halloween. Like other children, the young Puddle Pixies dressed up and had parties, but their parents were always careful to remind them of the serious meaning behind Halloween, and to make them aware of the dangers that might lurk in the shadows.
Puddle Pixie Billy was on his way to the fields near the Fairpuddle to harvest the pumpkins which he had been carefully tending all year. This was going to be the best crop ever, and he whistled a merry tune as he pushed his big green wheelbarrow over the grass, thinking happily what a great party there would be in two days time, with his wonderful pumpkins providing the food as well as the decorations!
Then, a strange sight caught his eye. There, on the grass near the pumpkin patch, lay a brand new puddle, winking and twinking in the Autumn sunshine. Now, some puddles come and go according to the weather, but this new one was perfectly round in shape, and quite large for a temporary puddle. This surprised Billy, as he didn’t think there had been enough rain lately to form a puddle of that size.
He approached it carefully, and leaned over to dip his hand in the unusually still water, noticing how clear his own reflection was. He pushed his finger into the puddle. OUCH!!!! His finger just bent over, and he pulled it away. ‘It must be ice’
Billy decided, but then he thought : ‘But how can that be on such a warm day?’ He tried again, more carefully this time. Again, his finger could not pass through the hard, smooth surface, which was not particularly cold to the touch. ‘Definitely not ice’
Billy decided, walking towards the field to do his job.
When he reached the Pumpkin Patch, he was dismayed to notice that several of the largest pumpkins had already been pulled off the vines, and were lying abandoned on the ground. He gathered them up, along with a few more of those that remained, and decided to go to talk to his Grandad, Puddle Pixie Henry, about the strange puddle and the disturbance on the Pumpkin Patch. Grandad Henry was a member of the Council, and would know what to do.
He pushed his laden wheelbarrow over to his Grandad’s house, and they shared a pot of hot nectar whilst discussing the events of the day. ‘I suspect foul play by the Hobgoblins’ said Grandad. ‘You must have disturbed them before they could get away with many pumpkins. They have been more or less behaving themselves since the Wicked Witches were banished, but every now and again they get up to their old tricks. When we have finished our drinks, we’ll go to take a look.’
They delivered the pumpkins to the Village Hall where the party
was to be held on Friday night, then set off to investigate. First, they came to the new puddle. Puddle Pixie Grandad Henry poked and prodded it, then nodded wisely : ‘It’s not a puddle, it’s a MIRROR!’ he announced. Billy had never heard of a MIRROR before, so Grandad Henry explained : ‘Humans use mirrors to see their own reflection, as they are too big to be able to look at themselves in puddles like we do. One of them must have dropped it. Now, let’s go and see about these missing pumpkins’.
Over they went to the Pumpkin Patch. Grandad bent down and examined the evidence thoughtfully. ‘Hmm’ he said ‘Just as I thought. These look like hobgoblin footprints to me, and here is a trail of pumpkin leaves going the same way as the footprints – over the Far Hill, leading towards the Faraway land to which the Wicked Witches were banished – I bet they have been encouraging the Hobgoblins to do their mischief for them, as they can no longer get away to do it themselves! They would probably have taken the lot if you hadn’t happened by!’
Grandad rubbed his beard thoughtfully, and wrinkled his brow. Then a little smile crinkled his lips. He said to Billy : ‘I have an idea. Come with me.’ First, Grandad and Grandson went back to the village, where Billy called on several of his friends to help. Carrying their spades over their shoulders, Grandad led them back to the mirror.
Under his guidance, the strong young Puddle Pixies lifted it carefully and carried it to the edge of the Pumpkin Patch where they laid it down on the ground, then used their shovels to dig a deep narrow trench. Deeper and deeper it went, until the older Pixie signalled for them to stop. ‘Hold it there lads’ he called, examining their work carefully. ‘Yes, I think that will do nicely he said. ‘Now, lift the mirror and place it in the trench so it will stand up safely.’ They did so, and when the earth had been patted in firmly around the base, they stood back to admire the effect. There was now a big semi-circle of glass behind the pumpkin patch, and it looked as if there were twice as many pumpkins as there had been before! Billy and his mates giggled to see their reflections in the mirror. ‘Now for the final touch’ said Grandad Henry, pulling out of his pocket a small silky pouch. He opened it, and sprinkled a little of its contents - sparkling magic pixie dust - into his hand. Flinging it over the mirror, he began to chant a magic Pixie spell :
MAGIC MIRROR GUARD THESE LANDS
KEEP THEM SAFE FROM GOBLIN HANDS
IF THEY COME BY DAY OR NIGHT
GIVE THEM ALL A GREAT BIG FRIGHT!
As he repeated the spell for the third time, the mirror glowed gently for a few moments, so they knew the magic had worked. Then all the Puddle Pixies crept behind a nearby oak tree to hide, and to see what would happen.
Just as night was falling, they heard a shuffling sound and whispered conversations approaching their fields from the far side of the Faraway Hill. It was indeed a band of Hobgoblins creeping towards the Pumpkin Patch. Suddenly, the dark field was lit up with a flash of light which, all unbeknownst to them, came from the magic mirror. The goblins looked up from where they were now crouching over the pumpkins they intended to steal, and shouted in terror on seeing the ferocious faces of ENORMOUS goblins looking out at them.
They all dropped everything they had been holding and ran off as fast as their legs could carry them. It was all the Puddle Pixies could do to stop themselves bursting into loud laughter. For, of course, they knew that the scary creatures which had so frightened the hobgoblins were in fact JUST THEIR OWN REFLECTIONS, magnified a hundred times by the magic mirror!
The Pixies ran joyfully out of their hiding place, picked the remaining pumpkins and went home for a good night’s sleep, safe in the knowledge that the crop had been saved.
On Friday, all the Puddle Pixies and other invited guests made their way to the Fairpuddle Village Hall where the Halloween Party was to be held. The bridge across the puddle and the Hall itself were lit up brightly with wonderful lanterns made out of Billys’ pumpkins which had been saved from the clutches of the Hobgoblins.
As they were halfway across the puddle, the lights were suddenly all blown out by a huge gust of wind. There were cries of dismay as the party guests stopped on the bridge, unwilling to go any further in case they should slip and fall into the puddle in the darkness. One pixie pulled out a little lamplighter, and began to re-light the lanterns; but to no avail. As soon as they were lit, the wind blew again and out they went once more. What to do?
All was not lost. Antonio, the Puddledragonfly, was also on his way to the party. Seeing the problem at once, he called out to the Pixies on the bridge : ‘Don’t worry. I have a plan. Wait there.’ And with a flutter of his fantastic rainbow wings, off he flew. A few minutes later, back he came. ‘Watch this’,
he said, and called out ‘One, Two, Three, ON!
To the Puddle Pixies amazement, all the pumpkin lanterns, both large and small, began to glow, until the Hall and the bridge and even the Fairpuddle itself shone as bright as day! Antonio explained : ‘My friends the fireflies and the glow-worms were happy to help when I told them how the Puddle Pixies had been so kind to me when I broke my wings. They will keep the lanterns lit until the end of the party to scare away the mischief makers, and at the end of the evening make sure there is enough light for everyone to get safely home’.
And so, under the watchful eye of Fizzle the Firedragon, all the guests happily proceeded to the party, where they feasted on Billy’s handiwork; there was pumpkin leaf soup, honey-roasted pumpkin seeds as well as traditional pumpkin pie and many other dishes to go with the pumpkin vine wine; for no part of the wonderful crop was wasted.
They danced well into the night to the music of the Raggle-Taggle-Gypsies, the Pixie Gypsy Band, and all agreed that, thanks to Billy and Grandad Henry, it had been the best Halloween ever!