Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The Halloween Tree" Chapter 5

So yesterday's chapter ended with the boys setting eyes on the titular tree for the very first time.  The fifth chapter in Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree proceeds to describe in detail this spectacular tree, and it's much more wondrous than I initially thought.

The pumpkins adorning this mammoth tree aren't just mere gourds.  They are actually Jack O'Lanterns; each one is carved with eyes and noses and wide, grimacing smiles.  And is if they are alive, they begin to light up on their own.
One by one, starting at the botton of the Tree and the nearest pumpkins, candles took fire within the raw interiors.  This one and then that and this and then still another, and on up and around, three pumpkins here, seven pumpkins still higher, a dozen clustered beyond, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand pumpkins lit their candles, which is to say brightened up their faces, showed fire in their square or round or curiously slanted eyes.  Flame guttered in their toothed mouths.  Sparks leaped out their ripe-cut ears.
As if this isn't phenomenal enough, it gets even better!  From a source unknown -- perhaps from the pumpkins, the night wind, the tree, or the house -- voices begin to sing:
"It's big, it's broad...
It's broad, it's bright...
It fills the sky of All Hallow's Night...
The strangest sight you've ever seen.
The Monster Tree on Halloween.
The leaves have burned to gold and red
The grass is brown, the old year dead,
But hang the harvest high, Oh see!
The candle constellations on the Halloween Tree!
The stars they turn, the candles burn
And the mouse-leaves scurry on the cold wind bourne,
And a mob of smiles shine down on thee
From the gourds hung high on the Halloween Tree.
The smile of the Witch, and the smile of the Cat,
The smile of the Beast, the smile of the Bat,
The smile of the Reaper taking his fee
All cut and glimmer on the Halloween Tree..."
While the song is being sung, the candles within the pumpkins all light up until the tree appears to be one giant smile hanging in the air.  What a moment!  I'm telling you, I had goosebumps while reading it... pure magic.  I was completely swept up in it all.  The boys, then, like myself, began to wonder aloud over the things they have so far witnessed.  Suddenly they hear a voice again coming from nowhere, and then a large and inviting leaf pile appears seemingly out of thin air.  They can't resist the urge to just jump into that pile of leaves!

But as they are about to dive in, they stop because a bony hand emerges from the pile, followed by a smiling white skull which zooms toward them.  The boys all fall down in a heap.
Then peal after peal of laughter froze them further as the hand upon the air, the bony skeleton hand, reached up, took hold of the white skull face and -- peeled it down and off!
The tall man appeared before them, growing up out of those leaves taller and taller, laughing so hard the earth shook.  His laughter somehow makes the boys laugh too, no longer afraid.  Finally the man says, "Yes, boys, that was a Trick!  You'd forgotten?  No, you never knew!"

Turns out the man knows all of the boys' names already, and he introduces himself as Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud.
"A fine name," said Mr. Moundshroud, giving it a full sepulchral night-church sound.  "And a fine night.  And all the deep dark wild long history of Halloween waiting to swallow us whole!"
Then he begins to ask each boy about the costumes they are wearing.  Clearly none of them know why they are dressed like witches or skeletons or ghosts.  They dress up simply because it's the thing to do on Halloween.  But Moundshroud thinks it'll be fun to teach them.
"I'll tell you!  No, I'll show you!  If only there was time--"
"It's only six thirty.  Halloween hasn't even begun!" said Tom-in-his-cold-bones.
"True!" said Mr. Moundshroud.  "All right, lads -- come
But the boys don't want to go anywhere without Pipkin.  Then suddenly they hear his voice, calling from the other side of the ravine, away in the distance.

And that's where the chapter ends!  Extraordinary, right?  This chapter was the longest of any chapter so far, with the most happening in it.  The song of the Halloween Tree, the trick played by Moundshroud, the introduction of his plan for them, and Pipkin's sudden and unexpected appearance.  What will happen next?!

1 comment:

Mishqueen said...

Do you really have a steel willpower and are NOT reading to the next chapter? Or are you just blogging one chapter a day, even though you read ahead? You're a better man than I...


Related Posts with Thumbnails