I couldn’t possibly relate to you how glorious and thrilling it was to feel myself propelled by joy and hope alone, up into the sky. The children who flew into the air around me laughed as they tumbled upward. We all flowed like a torrent of pure happiness through the vortex in the violet Faerie sky, and back into the dusty twilight of the human world.
Once through the doorway, we tumbled haphazardly onto the snowy ground, in the empty center of the circus midway, falling about and still laughing brightly. As I finally caught my breath, I began to notice that a few of the children around me were being taken up off of the ice into the warm embraces of their parents. There were a large number of people surrounding us, now.
I saw the mother who had been crying out for Alice—when her little girl had gone missing in the ice-maze—run in and take the ginger girl up into her arms, crying still but now from clear joy as she held her laughing daughter close. I must admit, my heart warmed considerably to see them together again. I heard a voice call out my name and I turned to it, just in time to see Idris rush closer. Before I could say a word, he knelt down and pulled me into his arms.
“I thought I’d lost you,” he said, holding me tightly. “I’m so glad you’re all right.”
I found myself speechless for a moment, seeing my usually aloof friend show such open and warm feelings. I could only imagine that my disappearance had come as a great shock to him. He pulled back and smiled warmly, still kneeling on the ice just before me.
“I’m as right as rain,” I offered with my own smile. “It was just a few fairies. No trouble at all.”
Idris laughed and shook his head. “Ah, Jeffery. There’s only one of you in the world.”
My pride bloomed with his compliments and I realized then that, even in all of the chaos of my ordeal, I had missed him as well. Idris was, after all, the closest friend that I had ever had.
After he closed the doorway behind the last of us, we realized that some of the children had been missing for days, and that their devastated parents were no longer at the circus. On this rare occasion, he agreed to grant the not-terribly-entertaining wish that each of the children were returned to their families again. They waved goodbye to me as they each vanished from sight in a puff of purple smoke.
Then Idris, the present parents, the ring master, and much of the circus staff all wanted to know exactly what had happened to the stolen children and I, after we had been stolen away. I related the tale as succinctly as I could, and answered their questions. Once my story was finished, Rafael asked Idris to grant him a wish, making the circus impervious to any future fairy mischief. Idris seemed somewhat put out by the request, now that he was getting over his initial joy and being reunited with me, but he granted the wish, nonetheless.
Now that the circus was perfectly safe once again, and everyone was where they ought to be, Idris and I were finally able to enjoy the main show, under the enormous tent of glassy blue ice in the failing light of evening. We saw pretty girls in blue silk dresses do amazing tricks while riding their tamed polar bears. The clowns appeared in white and blue to slip about on a wide sheet us ice, making me laugh so hard that I could barely breathe.
Rafael even appeared, to show us a charming show of magic, where is transformed Alice, the little ginger girl, into a penguin and back again with many mysterious phrases and a great deal of sparkling fireworks. Later, as I watched the acrobats fly gracefully across their ice trapezes, I found myself relaxing deeply into the calm joy of it all.
“Careful, there,” Idris said softly to me. “You’re floating.”
“Good heavens!” I exclaimed, shocked to find that I was no longer sitting on my seat, but indeed floating a few inches above it. Almost the instant I realized it, I dropped down again.
Idris chuckled lightly. “Don’t worry. The pixie dust will wear off by tomorrow.”
“I’m glad of that,” I said, looking back to the elegant acrobats. “It was rather enjoyable to escape the way that we did, but I don’t think I should like to go floating about all of the time.”
“I suppose not,” Idris said with a smile. “Which reminds me, we haven’t yet discussed what we shall do tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” I asked.
He nodded, still watching the acrobats. “We’ve done just about all that there is to do here. It would be boring to do it all over again tomorrow, too. We should go somewhere else.”
“Well,” I began, thinking things over quickly, “I do very much enjoy this circus. It’s a very beautiful place. But I must say I am a bit done with the cold.”
“And I’m sure stopping off in the Winter Lands of Faerie for a while didn’t help warm you up,” Idris added with another chuckle.
“Not at all,” I conceded with a laugh of my own. “Do you think we might go somewhere warm tomorrow?”
“Jeffery, we can go anywhere you like,” Idris said to me with a smile.
I must admit that the thought of such freedom, especially after having gotten a second taste of captivity, filled me with excitement. My mind returned almost instantly to the wild, teaming, verdant jungle that the Cave of Infinite Wonders had shown me. Idris had told me then, that it had shown me the jungle because the deepest part of myself had wished to see it. Although it still seemed strange to me that that could be true, considering my gentlemanly nature, at the moment such a unbridled and fertile place seemed like just what I needed.
“You know,” I said, pleased with the thought as I looked back to my friend. “I think I would like to see a jungle next. Somewhere warm, and green, and wild. Oh, and somewhere where there are lots of bananas, as well.”
“Naturally!” Idris said on a laugh. “Let’s enjoy the rest of this show, have some dinner with my friends here, and get some rest. Then, first thing tomorrow, you can wish us away to the Amazon.”
“The Amazon…” I murmured happily. “That sounds splendid.”
“Maybe we could take a river cruise first,” Idris mentioned. “That way we could enjoy the jungle without having to worry about being eaten by anything.”
“Eaten?” I asked, aghast.
“There are lots of wild animals in jungles, you know. I think you’ll find, most of them aren’t as civilized as you are.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” I said, feeling a chill at the idea. “Yes, a cruise sounds lovely. I’m very glad I’m traveling with you,” I added, happy to have a companion with such a clear head.
Idris smile at me warmly again and nodded. “I’m glad that I’m traveling with you, as well.”
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