Thursday, October 21, 2010

"The Halloween Tree" Chapter 9

Things are just getting cooler and cooler, guys!  Last chapter ended with Moundshroud getting sucked down into the pyramid's dark tomb, and in this chapter the boys follow!  Here's how it happened:
Out of the darkness something rolled, rushed, flapped.
A long strip of mummy cloth snapped out into the sunlight.
It was as if the very tomb itself had stuck out its old dry tongue which lay at their feet.
The boys stared.  The linen strip was hundreds of yards long and might, if they wished, lead them down, down into the mysterious deeps below the Egyptian earth.
Tom (he's always the first, isn't he?) put his foot on the linen and a voice from within said, "Yessss," clearly encouraging him.  He began to walk along it, like on a tightrope, following it into the darkness.

The other boys follow, of course, and they begin to go faster and faster.  The pillars on either side are suddenly visible, and the stone drawings come to life.  They depict a glorious sun being murdered by some dark creature.  But as they run, the next pillar shows the sun burning bright again, before quickly being murdered.  Born again.  Dead again.  Over and over.

Tom thinks about how he would sometimes wonder at night if the sun had died, and how relieved he had been in the morning to see it alive again.  He also thinks in terms of winter and spring, how they are like a long night and a long morning.  But no matter how dark and dead things get, the sun is always reborn.

They see a depiction of an Egyptian God, and Henry-Hank recognizes it from some mummy movie he has seen.  Tom even knows his name: Osiris.
"Yessssssss..." hissed Moundshroud's voice from the deep tombs.  "Lesson Number One about Hallowen.  Osiris, Son of the Earth and Sky, killed each night by his brother Darkness.  Osiris slain by Autumn, murdered by his own night blood.  So it goes in every country, boys.  Each has its death festival, having to do with the seasons.  Skulls and bones, boys, skeletons and ghosts."
Through a hole, the boys can see out into the Egyptian village.  Now that it's dusk, the people have started placing food outside.  The boys learn that it's for the homecoming ghosts; a sort of "treat" laid out for them.  Lamps are light, and the smoke floats upward and looks like ghosts circling in the air.
And the shadows stepped up on the porches and, very gently, touched the gifts of food.
The chapter ends with a family setting an old mummy at the head of the table, and giving a toast in his honor. Isn't that fascinating?  Assuming this information is factual, I'm loving what I'm learning about Egypt!

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