The stolen children and I spent a long interval telling, analyzing and discussing the fairy tales that they knew. Occasionally, we saw colorful streaks of light fly overhead, and we hushed our voices until they passed. I confirmed that Jack Frost had told me the flying lights were pixies, when some of the children suggested what they might be. We certainly didn’t want the bright little beasts to overhear us as we spoke on, trying to glean enough information from the fairy tales to free ourselves.
“What do you know of pixies?” I asked the children as we sat together in the powdery snow, just after another of the flying lights had streaked overhead. “I haven’t seen any other fairies come near us here. Is there any way to use the pixies to our advantage?”
“I heard that they play pranks,” one boy told us. “They’re mean and wicked.”
“But I heard that they deliver messages,” the ginger girl offered. “They also spy,” she added in a whisper.
“Messages?” I asked, a new thought coming to mind. “Do you know if they can deliver messages between worlds?”
“I suppose so,” the ginger said with a shrug.
“Pixies always do bad things to people, in our world,” said the girl with blond pigtails. “That means that they have to go back and forth.”
“An excellent point,” I said to her. She smiled, pleased with my praise. “Perhaps, if we could capture one of them, we could convince it to send a message to my friend, Idris. He’s a djinn. I’m sure he could bring us all home with a snap of his fingers.”
“What’s a djinn?” asked the boy in the blue coat.
“That’s another word for genie,” said the girl with pigtails. Many of the children seemed very excited to hear this.
“If we can make it promise,” said one of the oldest boys, “then it has to do what we want. Maybe we can catch a pixie, then say we won’t let it go unless is makes a deal.”
“Yes, all fairies seem to be unable to break deals,” I said, nodding. “I think that might be our best course of action.” The children smiled happily at the thought of our plan. “But,” I asked thoughtfully, “how will we catch one of them?”
“They like cake,” the ginger girl mentioned.
“We haven’t any cake,” the boy in blue said sullenly.
“Wait a moment,” I said, reaching into my pocket. I pulled out the little snow-monkey cookie that I’d won at the gaming booths, earlier that day. “It’s not a cake, but how about this?” I asked the children, showing them the cookie with his solid coating of icing and sugar. “Do you think the pixies would like it?”
“It’s sweet,” the ginger girl said with a smile. “That could work!”
“Can I have a bite?” a younger girl with short black hair asked. “I’m hungry.”
“I’ll buy you all the candy apples and as much popcorn as you can eat, just as soon as we get back to the circus,” I declared brightly. “And warm mugs of drinking chocolate, as well!”
The children cheered happily at this. I smiled around at them, pleased with the thought of returning home, myself. We then set to work quickly, creating our pixie trap. We decided that we would use one of the older boy’s hats to catch the pixie. We laid my handkerchief out on the snow to one side of our enclosed glade, and placed my cookie in the center of it.
After a few tests between the largest of the children and me, it was decided that my hands were the fastest, which left me with the task of trapping our prey. Once all was ready, we sat down again and tried to appear as sullen and defeated as we could, considering our collective excitement. I sat facing slightly away from the trap, though I kept a close watch on it out of the corner of my eye. With nothing left to do but wait, we each fell into an anxious silence.
Our patience was rewarded only a short time later, as we all heard the bee-like buzzing of a pixie flying closer. I did my best not to look up at it, though some of the children failed to fight the temptation. Nevertheless, the glowing yellow pixie stopped abruptly in its flight, hovering a few feet over the top of the silver fence. It then flit to one side of the glade, and then the other, hovering still in the air for a moment each time. My full attention was locked onto the buzzing little ball of yellow light, though I forced my gaze to remain on the hat that I toyed with idly in my hands.
When the pixie made a sudden dash for the cookie, I leaped to my feet with a wild cry and forced the hat down over the pixie as quickly as I was able. Startled, the children gasped as one. I froze, holding the hat down, as it began to shake violently under my hands. I’d caught it. I’d actually caught it! I could hardly believe my luck. The hat continued to shake as the pixie fought to free itself, but I hung on tightly, forcing the hat, the pixie, and the handkerchief and cookie underneath down against the soft snow.
“Here, now, stop it!” I snapped at the hat as some of the children crept closer. At my words, the hat suddenly fell still. The buzzing sound had ceased as well.
“Let me out!” shouted a shrill, high, voice which was muffled slightly from the thick fabric of the hat. I smiled up at the children around me, who returned it with their own. The pixie would speak to us, after all.
“I will not let you out until you make a deal with me,” I told the pixie firmly.
The hat shook again for a moment, as the buzzing sound returned. I also heard a long string of highly unsavory phrases issue from the hat. Some of the children gasped at such vulgar language, while other giggled.
“Stop that!” I snapped at the pixie. “That’s very rude.”
“Let me out!” the pixie screamed again.
“Make a deal with me!” I yelled back. Once again, the hat fell still and silent for a moment.
“What do you want?” the pixie asked with a hateful tone.
I took a breath to steady my thoughts before I answered. We’d learned from the fairy tales that I needed to be very careful in the words I chose.
“I want you to travel to the ice circus in the human world, find a djinn by the name of Idris, and tell him that Jeffery is in Faerie with the missing children.”
The distinct sound of a heavily annoyed sigh came up from the hat. “Ask for something else.”
“No,” I said firmly. “You will find Idris and tell him that Jeffery and the missing children are in Faerie, or I won’t let you out.” Once again, I was careful not to leave any room for the pixie to twist my words. The children gave me pleased and supportive smiles and nods.
The hat began to curse for a moment, but then fell silent. “Fine!” the pixie declared angrily. “I’ll do what you ask. Now let me out!”
I took a breath, thinking quickly over all that had been said. I couldn’t imagine that there was any way for the pixie to double-cross us without keeping its promise. “Well, here goes,” I muttered to the children, and then lifted the hat.
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