The morning sun was shining bright, and the smell of burnt sugarcane filled the air. It was a smell reminiscent of Halloween. After breakfast, everyone went outdoors. From that moment on, every minute was filled with excitement.
“Antoine, come and see our sugar shacks,” said Zachary with much pride. “I know you’ll like them.” The dolls didn’t have an attachment to material things. Leaving their sugar shack houses they lived in for one month wasn’t an issue. They only knew about their mission of spreading love and happiness to the humans.
Antoine followed all of the Sha Bebe dolls to see every inch of the land. When he returned to the middle of the braided rug road, he asked with playfulness in his voice, “What is this?”
“It’s the Rou Garou,” said Sandi. “We stuffed him for Halloween. You like him?”
“Yes, I like the Rou Garou. I can tell you spent a lot of time creating him,” he smiled. He looked down at the dolls with his shiny, silvery eyes which they grew to love in only one hour. “I like him, because he’s stuffed and can’t hurt me,” he laughed as his tall presence stood like a giant among the small Sha Bebe dolls. All of the dolls laughed with him while Queen Faustina, and the rest of the residents stood with Antoine on the braided rug road. They all loved Antoine. Plume was so proud of her Wizard brother.
“All of the decorations you’ve made for the land, has given the land a festive feel for this Halloween season.” He threw his arms up with joy. Oh, he loved drama just as much as Plume. “Now, with Queen Faustina’s permission,” he bowed to the Queen in the same grand style like a knight in shining armor. “I want to give all of you a little something extra. It’s something which will bring you much joy and happiness, before you leave tonight for the run-of-the-quilts.”
“Oh, something extra! Lagniappe. We love to get lagniappe,” they all yelled at the same time, jumping with joy. Antoine looked at Queen Faustina for permission.
“Antoine you’ve proven yourself a good Wizard to all of us. What ever you want to give the Sha Bebe is fine with me.” Faustina was overjoyed about his excitement for the dolls.
With her permission, he pushed his hands forward with a positive force and ten clowns popped into the land and started dancing and playing music. The Bebe Land Band came out to see what was going on and joined in on the festivities.
Next, with his hands, he pushed forward a giant slide that had four spirals around. The colors of the slide were the traditional Halloween stripes of orange and black. The dolls were in awe.
“Can we go up the ladder to slide down the tall circle slide?” Ophelia asked the Queen, her eyes filled with excitement.
“All of you can enjoy everything extra that Antoine leaves for you today,” the Queen smiled, and they all clapped their hands. “Today, we will all have fun.”
Next, came a merry-go-round with two rows of beautifully painted horses turning very slowly around to the soft tune of The Sha Bebe Waltz. The carrousel was filled with bright lights, and the music didn’t interfere with the zydeco and jazz music being played by the clowns and the Bebe Land Band. There was no electricity in the land, but this was Antoine, the Cajun Wizard who pushed forward the carrousel of beautiful horses glowing with bright lights of all colors.
Next, came a cloth doll lady dressed from head to toe in white, with a pretty pink cart full of pink and blue cotton candy, along with another vendor who had giant, red, candied apples in his shiny red cart. Another pretty white cart had popcorn popping in a window. The dolls could see the popcorn popping.
Next, he pushed forward a pretty witch who flew over-head on a shiny silver broom. Then, came a mysterious, yet gracious gypsy who held a crystal ball which had a light inside so that every one who came to her could see themselves in it.
Then, a sweet lady dressed like a princess in pink with a shiny silver crown on her head, was escorted by her lovely prince dressed in a black tuxedo. After that, a pretty teacher who was dressed in a black and orange stripped graduation cap and gown, had a stack of books in her hands while she walked through the land to answer any question that was asked of her.
Last, five, dark, orange pumpkins who were alive, appeared with funny smiling faces that could talk, and they had arms and legs to dance to the music of the clowns while mingling with the rest in the Land of Sha Bebe.
“Do you like my surprise?” asked Antoine to all of the residents, but his eyes were set especially on Queen Faustina.
“Antoine this is so exciting for all of us. Thank you.” Faustina was amazed with all of the lights. Her eyes were fixed on the boys and girls having so much fun. The land was full of activity with the slide and the carrousel full of lights, and so many new grown-up dolls walking around who resembled the better side of what Faustina didn’t want to talk about, ever. And, not to forget the live dancing pumpkins. The dolls loved them. “Oh, Antoine, this is wonderful.” Plume hugged her brother. “Poulette and I saw the city lights bright like this, but the dolls haven’t. How did you light up the carrousel?”
“I’m a Wizard with magic hands,” he laughed as he enjoyed watching the dolls have fun.
Poulette and Plume, Betty Lou, Marie, and the sixteen sugar mill ladies were having fun with the dolls on the slide. Faustina decide to go for a carrousel ride, and Antoine hopped on the carrousel horse next to her.
“If the dolls keep running and eating the popcorn and candies in the machines, they won’t be hungry for dinner,” Faustina smiled at Antoine.
“It’s their last day here. Let them have fun,” said Antoine. “I’ll make it all go away before they leave for the run-of-the-quilts. The run will go on as usual.”
“You’re a wonderful Wizard, Antoine Clement Hebert,” Faustina said, as the carrousel rode them around.
Everyone in the land spent the whole day in the yard playing and lunch wasn’t served. It’s the first time that Faustina saw the sugar mill ladies have so much fun. They were faithful with their chores and always in the kitchen house cooking three meals a day. They deserved a day off to have fun.
When evening rolled around, the fun slowed down. Betty Lou told all of the boys and girls that it was time to get ready for supper, so that the run-of-the-quilts could go on as usual. Running to each their sugar shacks, the dolls got dressed for supper and they were ready for the run. There was no whining or refusing to get off of the slide and the rides. They were good dolls who knew what their mission was in life; to bring love and happiness to the humans. They were ready to leave the land.
When the dolls entered the dinning room, Antoine cleared the land of all of the merriment he had given to them for their last day. The gumbo was cooked along with lots of extra food. The sugar mill ladies were so used to working together, that it was nothing for them to whip up a big meal in an hour.
This was Antoine’s first supper time, and he witnessed the dance of the full plates. The same performance was put on by Poulette as before, except there were more candles lit in the dining room, and more food, with a gumbo as the main course. The sugar mill ladies had a bigger black and orange candle which was not lit in the center of Antoine’s cornbread, with two, candy black cats on each side. When Antoine was told to blow on his candle, he said the same thing that the dolls said when they had their candle on a cornbread.
“But, the candle isn’t lit. How can I blow it out?”
The dolls laughed, because they already knew what was going to happen when he blew on the candle. Poulette continued with her supper time antics, and told each one of them to blow softly on their candle. She winked at the dolls, when Antoine again said that the candles weren’t lit, but he went along with the Halloween celebration. When he blew on his candle and it lit, he jumped, giving the dolls another good laugh.
“Poulette, you have more magic in you than making the quilts fly,” said Antoine, as he winked at her with a pleased look on his face.
“We manage here in the land,” said Poulette. “But, I have to say, you’re a welcome addition to our family. Tonight was the most festive I’ve ever seen the land. I hate to see it end.”
“Oh, it’s just beginning,” said Antoine with a chuckle. “I can give all of you anything you want. Just ask. It’s my good fortune to be here in the Land of Sha Bebe.”
Faustina took her napkin to place it on her lap. “We thank you so much Antoine. I think having this much fun now and then is good for all of us.”
“Faustina, will you let Antoine do this again, even if it’s not a holiday?” Poulette was surprised. Faustina was becoming more and more flexible with each passing year.
“Yes ---- it’s good to have fun,” she smiled and said nothing more, as she began to eat her gumbo.
Everyone finished supper, and it was time to go outside for the run-of-the-quilts. The dolls left the dining room in an orderly manner and saw the quilts lined along the braided rug road. Each quilt had a waving motion to it, as though it was ready to take off into the sky, but the dolls knew this about the quilts, because Betty Lou taught them everything about the run.
As the dolls stood and waited to see which quilt they were going to hop onto, Queen Faustina announced that she had a special message. “Tonight,” she paused as she smiled at the dolls, “Madame Poulette and I have a secret to tell all of you who are the special October dolls to leave the land on this night of Halloween.”
“Ah, the secret,” Plume said out loud. “We finally get to hear it. I love to hear when a secret comes out.”
“Yes Plume, the secret is finally coming out,” the Queen grinned. “Usually the one hundred dolls all go to the city for the run, but tonight, for the first time ever, Madame Poulette has magically instructed each quilt to go to different parts of Louisiana.”
The dolls jumped up and down with joy, because they were the first group to ever do this. Whenever a first happened in the land, their names went upstairs on Madame Plume’s Wall of Fame. Everyone applauded.
Faustina stood proud. “Before all of you leave the land, I will read the list of names. As I read your name, you will hop onto the first quilt, and so on down the line. Some of you will be two on a quilt, and some of you will fly alone. Madame Poulette will show you if you are to pair up, or not.”
The dolls waited anxiously.
Antoine had Buddy with him, his raccoon he brought back to the land in his brown tie bag. Three of the Cajun Fairies heard the news and came flying into the land from their oak tree to watch the run-of-the-quilts.
“I’ll read your names in alphabetical order, starting with the girls.” Faustina began by unrolling a beautiful scroll wrapped on a piece of cypress wood with purple tassels hanging from each end.
“Amy, Brittney, Carolyn, Christine, Courtney, Danielle, Debra, Diane, Dolly, Donna, Dorothy, Emily, Faye, Gwen, Helen, Jade, Jasmine, Karen, Katie, Laura Ann, Linda, Lisa, Lori, Madison, Maggie, Mickie, Miriam, Monica, Monique, Myra, Nancy, Ophelia, Patricia, Patsy, Patty, Ruby, Sandi, Sara, Sharon, Sondra, Suzie, Tammy, Tilly, Tina, Vanessa, Vera, Vinette, Wanda, Whitney Lynn, and Zoe.”
“And now for the boys.” Faustina unrolled a second scroll.
“Archie, Billy, Bobby, Buddy, Chevy, Dale, David, Davy, Danny, Dennis, Donald, Duffy, Dustin, Elvis, Gerald, Harold, Jeff, Jerame, Jerry, Jimmy, John, Jordy, Junior, Joe, Kim, Larry, Lawrence, Levy, Mark, Michael, Mike, Monte, Morgan, Noah, Norman, Philip, Ralph, Raymond, Reed, Richard, Ricardo, Roland, Scott, Steve, Ted, Teddy, Tristan, Tyler, Victor, and Zachary.
When all of the dolls were on the quilts they were suppose to be on, anxiously awaiting departure from the land, Faustina named the towns in Louisiana where their final destination would be.
“With permission from me, Queen Faustina, and all of you having my key seal of approval, you will be leaving the Land of Sha Bebe for these parts of Louisiana;
Grande Isle, Port Fourchon, Leeville, Golden Meadow, Galliano, Cut-Off, Larose, Venice, Buras, Houma, Lockport, Raceland, Thibodaux, Morgan City, Pierre Part, Baton Rouge, Clinton, Lafayette, New Iberia, Crowley, Abbeville, Lake Charles, Bayou Boeuf, Opelousas, Kentwood, Hammond, Alexandria, Natchitoches, Shreveport, Monroe, and Ruston.”
Everyone was applauding and waiting for Poulette to get in position to start the run-of-the-quilts. The sun had gone down and the night was clear with the full moon still showing her brilliant glow. The Bebe Land Band was playing music, and Antoine had such a good feeling inside, like he had when he was with his family, that the moment became overwhelming for him. He went to Plume and Marie and gave them a tight hug for giving him his life back.
Standing in front of all of them, he picked up his fiddle and joined in with music until Poulette was ready to send the dolls off to different parts of Louisiana. When the Bebe Land Band stopped playing, Antoine put his fiddle down.
Madame Poulette came to the front quilt, and with her magic wand in hand, she picked up the front end of her long black dress and started the run by tipping the first quilt with her wand. When she did that the first quilt took off into the sky. She did the same thing for the second quilt and so on down the line. As she ran along to each quilt, everyone clapped and chanted, “Run Poulette run -- Run Poulette run -- Run Poulette run.”
With each quilt that flew into the sky, the doll on that quilt yelled back to the residents, “Bye, we love you.” With those words, the last thing they saw in the land as they flew high into the sky was Madame Poulette’s stars shining around her long black dress. Poulette ran until the last quilt was air borne.
When the run was done, the Bebe Land Band began playing again, and they all danced. It was a joyful moment to see them leave the land to help the humans. It was now ten o’clock at night, and they had two more hours left until the midnight hour, when the new bunch of dolls would come running out of Madame Plume’s plantation house to live in the sugar shacks of the one hundred dolls who had just left. Until the midnight hour, they danced.