Quotes By The Halloween Tree

“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”


“So," said Moundshroud. "If we fly fast, maybe we can catch Pipkin. Grab his sweet Halloween corn-candy soul. Bring him back, pop him in bed, toast him warm, save his breath. What say, lads? Search and seek for lost Pipkin, and solve Halloween, all in one fell dark blow?"

They thought of All Hallows' Night and the billion ghosts awandering the lonely lanes in cold winds and strange smokes.

They thought of Pipkin, no more than a thimbleful of boy and sheer summer delight, torn out like a tooth and carried off on a black tide of web and horn and black soot.

And, almost as one, they murmured: "Yes.”


“Hold the dark holiday in your palms, Bite it, swallow it and survive, Come out the far black tunnel of el Día de Muerte And be glad, ah so glad you are… alive! Calavera…Calavera…”


“Mr. Moundshroud, who are YOU? And Mr. Moundshroud, way up there on the roof, sent his thoughts back: I think you know, boy, I think you know. Will we meet again, Mr. Moundshroud? Many years from now, yes, I’ll come for you. And a last thought from Tom: O Mr. Moundshroud, will we EVER stop being afraid of nights and death? And the thought returned: When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die. Tom listened, heard, and waved quietly. Mr. Moundshroud, far off, lifted his hand. Click. Tom’s front door went shut. His pumpkin-like-a-skull, on the vast Tree, sneezed and went dark.”


“What will that mean to each of you? “It will mean that those of you who might have lived to be seventy-one must die at seventy. Some of you who might have lived to be eighty-six must cough up your ghost at eighty-five. That’s a great age. A year more or less doesn’t sound like much. When the time comes, boys, you may regret. But, you will be able to say, this year I spent well, I gave for Pip, I made a loan of life for sweet Pipkin, the fairest apple that ever almost fell too early off the harvest tree. Some of you at forty-nine must cross life off at forty-eight. Some at fifty-five must lay them down to Forever’s Sleep at fifty-four. Do you catch the whole thing intact now, boys? Do you add the figures? Is the arithmetic plain? A year! Who will bid three hundred and sixty-five entire days from out his own soul, to get old Pipkin back? Think, boys. Silence. Then, speak.”


“But, stop and think. What does the word ‘witch’ truly mean?” “Why—” said Tom, and was stymied. “Wits,” said Moundshroud. “Intelligence. That’s all it means. Knowledge. So any man, or woman, with half a brain and with inclinations toward learning had his wits about him, eh? And so, anyone too smart, who didn’t watch out, was called—” “A witch!” said everyone. “And some of the smart ones, the ones with wits, pretended at magic, or dreamed themselves with ghosts and dead shufflers and ambling mummies. And if enemies dropped dead by coincidence, they took credit for it. They liked to believe they had power, but they had none, boys, none, sad and sorry, ’tis true. But”


“And a last thought from Tom: O Mr. Moundshroud, will we EVER stop being afraid of nights and death? And the thought returned: When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die.”


“Es war eine kleine Stadt an einem kleinen Fluß und einem kleinen See in einem kleinen Teil eines Staates im mittleren Westen.”


“See, boys?” Moundshroud’s face flickered with the fire. “The days of the Long Cold are done. Because of this one brave, new-thinking man, summer lives in the winter cave.” “But?” said Tom. “What’s that got to do with Halloween?” “Do? Why, blast my bones, everything. When you and your friends die every day, there’s no time to think of Death, is there? Only time to run. But when you stop running at long last—” He touched the walls. The apemen froze in mid-flight. “—now you have time to think of where you came from, where you’re going. And fire lights the way, boys. Fire and lightning. Morning stars to gaze at. Fire in your own cave to protect you. Only by night fires was the caveman, beastman, able at last to turn his thoughts on a spit and baste them with wonder. The sun died in the sky. Winter came on like a great white beast shaking its fur, burying him. Would spring ever come back to the world? Would the sun be reborn next year or stay murdered? Egyptians asked it. Cavemen asked it a million years before. Will the sun rise tomorrow morning?” “And that’s how Halloween began?” “With such long thoughts at night, boys. And always at the center of it, fire. The sun. The sun dying down the cold sky forever. How that must have scared early man, eh? That was the Big Death. If the sun went away forever, then what?”


“They banged doors, they shouted Trick or Treat and their brown paper bags began to fill with incredible sweets. They galloped with their teeth glued shut with pink gum. They ran with red wax lips bedazzling their faces. But all the people who met them at doors looked like candy factory duplicates of their own mothers and fathers. It was like never leaving home. Too much kindness flashed from every window and every portal. What they wanted was to hear dragons belch in basements and banged castle doors.”


“Boy,' said Ralph, squinched up, balled up, feet against chest, eyes tight. 'England is no place to be a sinner.”


“Trick, yes, trick.' The boys were catching fire with the idea. It made all the good glue go out of their joints and put a little dust of sin in their blood. They felt it stir around until it pumped on up to light their eyes and stretch their lips to show their happy-dog teeth. 'Yeah, sure”


“Moundshroud, leaning over, gave a snort: “Why those are Sins, boys! And nondescripts. There crawls the Worm of Conscience!”


“The scythe fell and lay in the grass like a lost smile.”