If there is one thing that I don’t like, it’s being treated like an animal. Frequently, when I am introduced to people, they are shocked to hear me speak and seem astonished by my good manners. I understand that no one realizes I am not just a vulgar monkey like any other, before we are introduced. I also understand that the truth of my nature is uncommon. But surely, once someone has spoken with me, seen me as I truly am, I expect them to treat me with the same respect that I show them. Jack Frost, however, couldn’t seem to follow this logic at all.
After taking me to see the queen of the winter fairies, and grabbing me roughly by my coat collar, he then somehow transported me instantly to a totally new place and dropped me unceremoniously into the snow, once again. I got back to my feet and cursed, wiping the soft, powdery snow from my face with a hand. When I looked around me, however, I found that Jack was now nowhere in sight. Instead, I was surrounded on all sides by small children.
We were in another sheltered glade, like the one Jack had taken me to at first, but now I could see a tall fence of very fine and sharp looking silver, twisted like wrought-iron. which surrounded us all at the edges of the forest. As I looked around at the clearly frightened faces all around me, I realized that each and every of the twenty or so children was roughly the same size as I was, and appeared to range in ages from four to six years. They seemed startled by my sudden presence, and unsure if I was a friend to them or not.
“Hello,” I said in the gentlest and friendlies manor I could. “My name is Jeffery.”
One girl with golden pigtails and a long pink jacket over her dress and boots stepped closer to me and reached out to pet at the fur on the side of my head. “Nice monkey,” she said with a smile.
“Yes, that’s right,” I replied with my own smile, accepting the petting. Some of the other children were coming closer now as well, petting at me or tugging curiously at my clothing and hat. “Now, now…” I muttered, nervous that I may be overrun. “Be good, now,” I said with a slightly more firm tone of voice, moving away from them.
“Did you come from the circus?” a boy in a blue coat asked me.
“Yes, I did,” I answered. “Is that where you all came from?” Only some of them nodded, but none denied it.
“I want to go home,” a younger girl muttered with a pouting lip. A number of other children murmured similar sentiments, and some looked nearly about to cry.
“There, there,” I said, offering another smile. “We’ll all get home soon. Don’t be afraid.”
“But how?” the girl with the pigtails asked. “We tried to climb, but it’s too high,” she said, glancing to the silver cage around us.
“I don’t think we can walk away from here, anyway,” I said with a sigh. “I saw other parts of this forest. I don’t believe we are in the same world as the circus. Jack Frost told me that this is a fairy land.”
“But fairies are supposed to be nice,” the boy in blue mentioned.
“Yes, they grant wishes,” a little girl with red hair and freckles offered with a smile.
“We can wish to go home!” a little boy said suddenly, causing some of the others to smile and murmur excitedly at the idea.
“Of course, a wish!” I declared, suddenly remembering Idris. “We don’t have to ask the fairies. I’m not sure if he can hear me, but I know someone who can grant wishes. Let me try something.” The children watched me curiously as I took a breath and turned my eyes to the heavens. “Idris, I wish we were all back in the circus, right now!” I called on a clear voice. I waited for a moment, but nothing happened at all. I gave a sigh and shook my head. “I guess he can’t hear me.”
“Then, we can ask one the fairies to grant our wish,” a little boy with dark hair offered.
My mind returned to the proud, alien, and fearsome queen I’d met. I seriously doubted that she would grant any of the children’s wishes. She hadn’t even flinched at the idea of letting Jack kill me. I put up my hands to still the children’s mirth.
“I don’t think these fairies are the wish granting kind,” I said sorrowfully. “I met the queen. She isn’t very nice.”
“I knew it,” the boy in blue said with a frown. “I told you they were bad fairies.” As the children’s short-lived hope began to falter again, a new thought suddenly came to me.
“Wait, but you children know about fairies,” I began, still working through the idea. “Of course you do. Everyone tells you fairy tales!” In my excitement, my voice rose and some of the children looked at me, startled. “I don’t really know any fairy tales,” I went on, softening my voice. “But you do. If you tell me the tales you know of fairies, we might be able to work together to come up with some way to escape.”
“But how will telling stories help?” the boy in blue asked.
“The stories might tell us the fairies’ weaknesses, or how to trick them,” I said, keeping my voice low in case we might be overheard. The children moved closer, listening to me intently now. “I don’t know much about fairies, but I believe that they can be tricked, can’t they?”
“Like Rumplestiltskin?” the ginger girl asked in a hushed tone.
“Who?” I asked.
“Rumplestiltskin!” she repeated. “He was a bad fairy who tried to steal a lady’s baby, unless she could guess his name. But she caught him saying his name to himself when he thought she couldn’t hear. She beat him!”
“Exactly!” I said, struggling to contain my excitement. This plan might just work. “Do you know any other stories about people tricking fairies, or beating them like that?”
To my joy, the children seemed to come up with story after story, each one containing some tiny nugget of information. One tale taught us that, like in the Rumpelstiltskin story, names seemed to hold some kind of power to fairies and so we promised not to speak our own names any more until we got back home. Another tale showed clearly that iron could burn a fairy’s skin, but unfortunately none of us seemed to have any iron with us. Story after story spilled out on their eager voices, while I tried my best to keep track of which ones seemed to apply to our situation.
To my continued horror, many of the stories contained references to fairies stealing children from their beds at night, or whenever they fell asleep outside in the woods. I didn’t wish to find out why these monstrous creatures wanted to steal children, or what they planned to do with the ones they had already taken. After seeing how little consideration Jack Frost had given to my life, I knew that I simply had to do everything in my power to bring each and every child safely back home.
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